Preventing Falls in the Elderly

One in four adults over the age of 65 falls each year. Falls lead to a death every 19 minutes. Fear of falling can lead to social isolation and depression. Fall prevention requires the joint efforts of patients and providers of health care in Silver Spring Maryland.

Treat Vision, Foot, Hearing Problems

The balance system coordinates input from the visual, vestibular, and proprioceptive systems of the body. Conflicting or disordered input among these systems lead to imbalance and dizziness. If a person has vision problems, have the eyes checked and treated. Make sure that the elderly person can easily find and put on glasses upon waking up. An audiologist or an ENT can help diagnose and treat dizziness originating from the inner ear. Podiatrists help with foot care. Address diabetic neuropathy so that the person can feel the legs and feet. Consider getting hearing aids for any hearing loss so that patients can better hear their footsteps on different floor surfaces.

Modify Home Environment

Install night lights so that the person is never in complete darkness. Consider devices that turn on lights with a clap. Remove rugs that slip easily. Check boundaries where floor surfaces change. Ensure that the edges will not catch on a person’s feet and cause them to trip. Keep travel paths wide enough to accommodate walkers. If a person often holds onto furniture in order to steady themselves, consider installing grab bars along the lengths of hallways. Install non-slip mats in the bathtub. Make sure the toilet and tub areas in the bathroom have grab bars.

See a Physical Therapist

A physical therapist can help diagnose and treat balance problems originating from skeletal and muscular issues. This allied health professional provides training in safe walking. If a cane or walker is needed, the physical therapist will demonstrate the correct technique.

Treating vision and hearing problems, providing foot care, and arranging the home environment helps prevent falls in the elderly. Physical therapists can provide additional training and tips.