Witnessing an aging parent’s physical health slowly decline into unsteadiness is never easy. There may be many warning signs, but the first time your father or mother has a serious fall can be a traumatic experience. Both the senior and family caregivers are often unsure what to do next. Rest assured, there are ways to help your loved one return to a regular lifestyle after the first fall.
Taking your parent’s first fall seriously is a vital first step. If he or she survived the fall unscathed it may be easy to dismiss, but falling once doubles the chance of falling again, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The next tumble may result in a serious injury such as a hip fracture or head injury, which in turn can lead to hospital and nursing home stays, loss of independence and even death.
It’s important to understand the factors that can lead to a fall in order to move forward with preventative measures. Many health-based and environmental risks can contribute to a tumble, including low blood sugar, dehydration, low blood pressure, improperly fitted footwear and tripping hazards such as rugs. Determine which ones may affect your parent and complete a walk-through safety assessment of the home. Increase family supervision, lighting throughout the house, install rails on stairs and handles near bathtubs, and invest in a shower chair to make your loved one’s home safer. If there are too many risk factors in the loved ones home, you may want to consider assisted home care options.
Plan a family meeting and have a conversation to determine a practical, realistic plan to help Mom or Dad address the issues that led to the fall, such as muscle weakness. Your parent’s independence is at stake, so be sure to include him or her in the process. Remember to acknowledge your loved one’s mental and emotional strain after falling, since it can have debilitating aftereffects. For more suggestions on what to do after the first fall, see the accompanying infographic.
Infographic created by Visiting Angels