“After Dad died, my Mom refused to leave her house. Mom and I had always enjoyed going shopping and out to eat, but now, she just wanted to stay at home. I knew how much she enjoyed getting out in the past, so she wasn’t fooling me. I am a Social Worker and I have witnessed the debilitating fear among elderly of falling….now this was my reality.” Harriett Farris, LMSW
Each year 2.5 million older people are treated in the emergency departments for fall injuries. More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling, and most brain injuries among the elderly are due to falls. Research shows that 30-50 % of elderly people have a debilitating fear of falling, which even surpasses the fear of being robbed, forgetting important appointment, and even financial concerns.
Falling has long been considered an inevitable byproduct of later life. However, due to excessive costs and decline of their patients’ health and quality of life, health care providers are proactively searching for preventive measures.
Here are some ways to overcome or lessen the fear of falling.
- Talk about it. Ask your loved one about their fears. Help them understand the risks and find solutions to reclaim their enjoyable experiences.
- Consult a physician. There may be a medical reason for the falls, such as a vision problem.
- Review medications. Some medications may cause dizziness.
- Put together a care plan. Purchase a life line or a cell phone that can be carried at all times. Find a caregiver to assist when your loved one is home alone.
- Perform a safety home check. “Fall proof” the home by removing area rugs, electrical cords, pet toys or clutter. Install handrails for stairs and bathrooms. Enhance lighting.
- Last but not least, encourage exercise to strengthen and improve balance. Balance problems can be improved by physical therapy and home care.
Jonathan Howland, a professor of social and behavioral science at Boston University’s School of Public Health who studies the fear of falling, says that inactivity often leads to depression…which may require medication…and in turn, may make someone more vulnerable to falling. Avoid this cycle altogether, and talk to a health care professional to ensure a better quality of life for you and your loved ones.
Please contact We Care Home Care to learn about how our caregivers can assist you or your loved one with activities of daily living. 843-789-3003, or WeCareHC.com