The data associated with senior falls is troubling. Falls are classified as the primary reason for injury in the elderly, bringing about hundreds of thousands of hip fractures each year, in addition to the numerous other injuries sustained. As common as falls are for seniors, the risk is more than doubled for people with osteoarthritis, according to research by the CDC.
Why Does Osteoarthritis Increase Fall Risk So Drastically?
There are several contributing factors:
- Pain. Joint pain in the elderly caused by arthritis leads to as much as an 85% higher probability of falling, based on the number of painful joints an older adult has and which joints are affected. The pain will naturally cause seniors to avoid utilizing the joints that cause pain, leading to unsteadiness and muscle weakness.
- Pain medications. While pain itself is enough to put seniors at a greater likelihood of falling, the very medications meant to help may cause harm as well. Prescription pain meds, primarily narcotics, cause dizziness and drowsiness – both key factors that cause falls.
- Functioning difficulties. Joint stiffness and the mobility challenges that it can cause changes how an older adult moves and walks. Each step taken normally places 80% of our body weight onto one limb, but those diagnosed with arthritis pain will discover techniques to compensate for the discomfort, which could place them off balance.
How to Avoid Falls
Taking specific steps to avoid falls is essential for those who have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis. There are two key components to fall prevention:
- Increase physical activity. Research has shown that improving flexibility and building muscle strength and balance will minimize the possibility that an older adult with arthritis will experience a fall. Talk to the older adult’s physician first, and then encourage these types of low-impact exercises:
- Tai chi
- Weight training
- Assess the home environment. A walk-through of an older adult’s home can help to identify any potential hazards and needed adjustments to enhance safety. For example, remove clutter/obstacles/cords blocking walking paths, add grab bars in the bathroom, be certain that sturdy handrails are in place alongside stairs, and add extra lighting.
Let At-Home Care Company, trusted senior helpers in Urbandale, Iowa, and nearby areas, reduce fall risk for a senior you love. We are readily available to perform a thorough evaluation of the home and then provide additional tips to improve safety. We can also assist with:
- Medication reminders
- Transportation to medical appointments, exercise classes, and anywhere else a senior would wish to go
- Housekeeping and meal preparation
- Safe transfers and walking
- Picking up prescriptions and groceries and running any other errands requested
- Companionship to motivate seniors to stay active while remaining safe
- And much more