Helping Seniors Recover After a Fall
While circus clowns and comedians may stir audiences to laughter over such stunts as slipping on a banana peel, there’s nothing funny about falling when it comes to seniors, who happen to be at a heightened risk for serious injuries which could result in a long rehabilitation process. Not only that, but there is a lesser known complication that often arises when helping a senior recover after a fall: a fear of falling again which is extreme enough to impact quality of life and health.
As the saying goes, “Once bitten, twice shy.” It’s natural – and wise – for a senior who has fallen to choose to take precautions in order to prevent a subsequent fall. Yet for many, the fear of falling prevents essential physical exercise, contributing to reduced balance confidence and weakness, each of which might actually enhance the danger of falling again.
Instead, it is essential for older adults to:
- Strengthen muscles. Ask the doctor and/or physical therapist for recommended exercises to use to help recover after a fall. Building strength is an essential component to combating future falls.
- Assess the home. Walk through the older adult’s home to check for any throw rugs, cords, clutter, etc. that can cause a tripping hazard. Ensure there’s sufficient lighting and install grab bars in the bathroom and anywhere else additional support might be beneficial.
- Discuss it. Older adults may feel embarrassed for having fallen; nevertheless, it’s worthwhile to discuss what occurred in order to understand what preventative measures should be taken to make sure it does not happen again.
It’s also helpful for seniors to set goals, with the help of a medical expert, and to start working to reach them. The goals must be reasonable and fairly easily attainable however, to instill confidence, such as having the ability to walk up and down the stairs independently while holding the handrail in the next 14 days, or walking the complete length of the backyard within a month.
Once an objective has been set, identify the steps necessary to hit that goal. What types of training will help strengthen the muscles needed to go up and down the stairs, or to take a lengthier walk? And if the goal is not achieved, think through what prevented the accomplishment, and what further steps could be taken to set and reach a new goal.
Above all, make sure to provide encouragement and support to cheer a senior loved one on towards regaining his or her self-assurance and confidence and to lessen any anxiety.
For more recommendations on preventing falls and building confidence after a fall, and to learn about our top-rated in-home caregivers, reach out to the home care experts in Carmel and the surrounding communities at Sage Home Care any time at 1-800-578-4554.