Most people in our survey said that they feel concerned that their parent might suffer a fall. Unfortunately, statistics also show that falls are one of the most common risks of injury among older people. But what can you do as a carer to avoid your parent taking a tumble?
As the body ages, both joints and muscles become stiffer. The muscle mass reduces, the risk of brittle bones increases and the sense of balance is affected. This results in a greater risk of falling, and the consequences of a fall can be worse than for a younger person. Statistics from the Public Health Agency of Sweden show that falls in particular are one of the most common reasons for admittance to hospital, especially among those over the age of 65. But what can you do to avoid your mum or dad falling and injuring themselves?
Josefin has drawn on guidelines and recommendations from the Public Health Agency of Sweden and the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare to summarise a few of the best tips to avoid your parent suffering a serious fall injury.
Check out the home
It must be easy for your parent to move around in the home without a risk of tripping over items such as cables, rugs, furniture and thresholds. Another important thing to consider is to check whether there is anti-slip protection on the stairs, in the bathroom and in the kitchen. If your parent has to perform tasks such as changing a light bulb or cleaning the windows, the risk of a fall increases. So it can be a good idea if you as a carer offer to lend a hand. Most municipalities also offer a free “odd job” service that can support older people in certain tasks to prevent any risk of falls. It can also be a good idea to make sure that the lighting is good in the home, as sight often becomes poorer with age.
If you’re unsure what to do to make your parent’s home safer, you can also contact the parent’s healthcare centre or rehab clinic. The healthcare centre can offer your parent help with home adaptation, such as removing thresholds and installing handles.
Physical exercise makes the body stronger
To prevent fall injuries, it’s important to encourage your parent to do exercises to maintain their strength and balance. A stronger body can more easily deal with a fall. So it’s important to encourage your parent to do both strength exercises and daily physical activity, such as a walk. To provide inspiration for strength exercises, the ageUK has listed a number of good exercises.
Sunlight strengthens the bones
As mentioned before, when we get older, the bones become weaker and there is an increased risk of brittle bones. This is particularly true of women. Bones that are weaker and brittle can have greater consequences in the event of a fall. It is therefore particularly important to get sufficient vitamin D when you are older, as this vitamin strengthens the bones. So it can be a good idea to let your parent know that it’s important to make sure they spend a few minutes out in the sunshine every day.
The right diet can help prevent fall injuries
Eating a varied and nutritious diet is another important preventive measure to reduce the risk of fall injuries. So try to encourage your parent to eat a regular, varied diet. It’s common for the appetite to reduce with age, so it can be particularly important to remind your parent to eat enough of the right things.
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