Advice & Information
What to Do When Your Elderly Parent Keeps Falling
A fall can be a scary experience for your parent, though it’s not uncommon in old age. Unfortunately, one out of four older adults fall each year in the U.S., leading to injuries such as broken bones and head trauma.
If your elderly parent keeps falling, it’s important to create a personalized fall prevention plan. This is especially true because older adults who have fallen are more likely to fall again. Falling may even be a sign that your parent has an underlying medical condition that needs to be addressed.
The good news is that falls are preventable by taking the right steps. Below we’ll go through our expert guidance on falls in the elderly and how to reduce your parent’s fall risk.
What to Do When Your Elderly Parent Keeps Falling
- Step 1 – Determine what caused the fall
- Step 2 – Learn what action to take after a fall
- Step 3 – Take steps to prevent future falls
- Step 4 – Consider if it’s time for senior living
Causes of an Elderly Parent Falling
Slips and falls can be caused by a wide range of different reasons. Every older adult has their unique set of risk factors that can contribute to a fall event.
While aging older adults show reduced mobility in general, there are certain health problems that can increase their risk of falling, such as:
- Medications that cause dizziness or drowsiness (especially pills for pain, sleeping, anxiety, depression, allergies, blood pressure, diabetes, dementia, etc.)
- Changes in blood pressure
- Anemia (i.e. low red blood cell count)
- Weak balance and gait issues (including joint, foot or back pain)
- Vision and inner ear issues
- Heart and neurological conditions (such as atrial fibrillation)
- Weakness caused by an infection (such as a UTI or pneumonia)
- Dementia or arthritis (which can reduce balance and strength)
- Vitamin D deficiency
In addition, a fall can be triggered by hazards at home, such as:
- Trip hazards, such as rugs, electrical cords and low furniture that’s difficult to see.
- Slippery surfaces, such as hardwood, washed floors and icy walkways.
- Too hot, as extreme temperatures can increase dizziness.
- Unfamiliar spaces, as the older adult won’t know what to watch out for.
Due to the wide range of factors that can contribute to a fall, it’s essential to address both medical and in-home causes.
What to Do After a Parent Falls
If your parent experiences a fall, you can minimize their injuries and get help by asking the following questions.
Does my parent need immediate medical assistance?
After your parent falls, ensure that they stay still so you can determine whether they have suffered an injury to the head, neck or back. You should call emergency services immediately if your parent is unconscious, has hit their head, has broken a bone or you believe has a head, neck or back injury.
If your parent has only minor injuries, you can slowly help them up and determine whether there is any pain or minor injuries that need to be treated.
What caused my parent’s fall?
Find out what may have caused your parent’s fall. For example, were they feeling dizzy before the fall? Perhaps they skipped a meal, forgot a medication or were feeling ill.
It’s also important to ask if they tripped over an obstacle or had trouble navigating a room for some reason.
Remember that a fall often occurs due to a combination of factors, so be sure to cover your bases. Once you know why the fall happened, you’ll be able to take steps to prevent them in the future.
What emotional effects should I look out for after a fall?
Falls don’t just have physical consequences, such as injuries or a hospital stay. For your parent, the emotional impact may be just as debilitating. For example, if your mom with dementia keeps falling, she may experience:
- Reduced independence – Older adults may require help as they recover from their injuries, or a mobility device such as a walker or wheelchair.
- Anxiety about falling – They may be worried about falling again and reduce their mobility (which in turn can weaken muscles and lead to another fall).
- Social isolation – If they’re physically unable to leave the house, your parent may also feel lonely and miss opportunities to socialize.
As your parent recovers from their injuries, work to reduce these emotional effects, so they can stay healthy in body, mind and spirit.
How to Prevent Your Parent From Falling Again
If your mom keeps falling, you should use a personalized approach to prevent incidents in the future. According to your loved one’s risk factors, you should put together a plan that makes sense for their specific needs.
Here are some key prevention strategies that may be included in your plan.
- Speak up and tell your parent’s doctor in order to rule out any underlying conditions.
- Review all of your parent’s medicines with a doctor. If your parent lives in a senior living community, check with the medication management program as well.
- Schedule a check-up for vision and mobility to ensure that there are no issues here. Your parent’s community may offer health coordination services to take care of this.
- Try physical therapy. Depending on your parent’s medical condition, they may benefit from physical therapy to slow down the effects of dementia or arthritis.
In-house or community strategies
- Make your parent’s home fall-proof. Do a safety assessment to remove trip hazards and add features such as grab bars, night lights and more.
- Consider moving your parent to a senior living community. All spaces are designed to be senior-friendly and prevent falls. They also provide 24/7 staff coverage and emergency response systems.
- Get a fall monitoring device, which can give you peace of mind from a distance.
- Encourage your parent to stay active, as this will improve balance and strength. At a senior living community, they can participate in a wealth of wellness amenities, such as a fitness center, yoga studio, outdoor walking trails and more.
- Ensure your parent eats well and hydrates. It’s important for your parent to stay healthy and strong through nutritious meals and regular hydration.
- Check your parent’s clothes and footwear. Get comfortable shoes, no-slip socks and any assistive devices as needed, such as a walker.
- Prevent nighttime falls by placing essentials such as tissues or water on the nightstand, so your parent doesn’t have to get up unnecessarily.
Devices to detect falls
Monitoring your parent from afar is easier than ever with today’s latest devices. You might consider getting a fall detector for your loved one, such as a pendant, watch, shoe or another emergency response system.
Basically, these products make it possible to detect a fall through motion sensors. For example, a smart watch will detect a potential fall and send an alarm to the emergency contact, so you can check on your parent and call emergency services as needed.
Other systems involve a pendant with a button that your parent can press for help after a fall. You should ask your parent’s doctor for advice about which fall prevention device may be right for your loved one.
In addition, at a senior living community, fall prevention and detection typically includes an emergency response system in the apartment, plus daily wellness checks and health coordination as needed.
Consider if It’s Time for Senior Living
In a community, your parent will be surrounded by senior-friendly spaces that are specifically designed for easy navigation and include safety features, such as grab bars and no-slip surfaces.
Senior living communities also offer a wide range of wellness amenities and nutritious meals, so that your parent can maximize their overall well-being.
In addition, assisted living services offer daily support for self-care tasks such as showering and dressing, so your parent receives the help they need. This type of assistance can greatly reduce fall risk, as an aide is available to support your parent during moments of risk, such as getting in and out of bed, using the bathroom, etc.
For even greater support, memory care offers specialized dementia care that not only includes assisted living tasks, but also specific activities and spaces for older adults with memory loss. This is ideal for individuals with mid-to-late dementia who could benefit from 24/7 support and activities to keep them engaged physically, intellectually, socially and spiritually.
As your parent’s advocate, you can help prevent falls by being proactive about their risks. Ideally, you and your parent’s doctor can create a personalized fall prevention plan, according to your parent’s medical conditions and potential in-home triggers.
Remember that moving to a senior living community is a great option when your elderly parent keeps falling. Here the community staff and spaces can help prevent falls and maximize your loved one’s overall well-being through services such as:
- Fall-proof spaces
- Assistance with daily care tasks
- Enhanced wellness programs
- Overall health coordination
- Medication management
- Nutritious meals
- …and more!
If you want to learn more about how a senior living community can help your elderly parent who falls, get in touch with our knowledgeable and dedicated team at Varenita.