The data related to senior falls is shocking. Falls are classified as the leading cause of injury in older adults and end in hundreds of thousands of hip fractures every year, along with countless other injuries sustained. As prevalent as falls in seniors are, the risk is more than doubled for people with joint pain and stiffness caused by osteoarthritis, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control.
Why Does Osteoarthritis Increase Fall Risk So Drastically?
There are a number of contributing factors:
- Pain. Joint pain and stiffness brought on by arthritis results in up to an 85% higher chance of falling, based on how many painful joints a senior loved one has and which joints are afflicted. The pain will naturally cause seniors to avoid utilizing the joints that cause pain, leading to muscle weakness and unsteadiness.
- Pain medications. While pain itself is enough to put older adults at a greater chance of falling, the very medications intended to help can lead to harm as well. Prescription pain meds, particularly narcotics, cause drowsiness and dizziness – both key factors that cause falls.
- Functioning difficulties. Joint stiffness along with the mobility challenges it can cause change how a senior walks and moves. Each step taken normally places 80% of our body weight onto one limb; but those diagnosed with osteoarthritis will discover techniques to compensate for the pain, which could place them off balance.
Strategies to Avoid Falls
Taking steps to prevent falls is crucial for those who are diagnosed with osteoarthritis. There are two crucial components to fall prevention:
- Increase physical activity. Research has revealed that improving flexibility and building muscle strength and balance will minimize the possibility that an older adult with arthritis will experience a fall. Check with a doctor first, and then try these low-impact exercises:
- Tai chi
- Strength training
- Assess the home environment. A walk-through of the home will help identify any potential hazards and recommend modifications to enhance safety. For example, get rid of clutter/cords/obstacles obstructing walking paths, add grab bars in the bathroom, be certain that sturdy handrails are in place alongside stairs, and add extra lighting.
Let Anthem Home Care, offering home health services in Corpus Christi, TX and the surrounding communities, help even further decrease fall risk for an older adult you love. We are readily available to perform a comprehensive assessment of the house and offer recommendations to enhance safety. We are able to also help with:
- Medication reminders
- Transportation to medical appointments, exercise classes, and anywhere else a senior may need to go
- Housekeeping and meal preparation
- Safe transfers and walking
- Picking up prescriptions and groceries and running any kind of errands requested
- Companionship to motivate older adults to stay active while remaining safe
- And much more