Tips to help your elderly parent avoid a fall

Caring for the elderly is a fairly full-time responsibility, and it requires a good deal of patience and love to help aging seniors continue living their lives as best they can given their limited mobility.

And while falls are common for the elderly, they can be prevented by following some straight-forward safety tips.

Make your home safe

Make your home as safe as possible for your elderly parent and consider the following ways to reduce the risk of a fall:

  • Good lighting: Make sure that your house is well lit and night-lights are in place.

  • Railing in the bathroom and toilet: Install grab rails in the bathroom and toilet to provide something to hold on to

  • Clean up clutter: Remove any obstructions in the house that might cause a fall

  • Secure rugs and carpets: Make sure that rugs and carpet are not worn through and secure rugs and mats to the floor with adhesive strips or consider removing them if they pose still pose a risk for a slip.

  • Pad sharp corners: If your furniture or table have sharp corners, consider using pads or change your furniture to reduce the risk of fractures

Keep safe outside

Help your elderly parent stay safe from falls when outside with these tips:

  • Use a support when outside: Canes, walking sticks, frames are all useful tools to help stay balanced and help to avoid a fall when walking outside.

  • Good shoes: Make sure that good quality, sensible shoes are worn that are comfortable and have slip-resistant soles.

Stay healthy

Regular exercise, a good diet and your doctor’s advice on how best to manage medical conditions will help reduce the risk of falls.

  • Exercise regularly and eat well: Strong muscles and joints are a great first defence against falls. Regular exercise will help your parent remain strong and assist good balance. A balanced nutritional diet will help your parent remain as healthy as possible.

  • Check eyesight: Regularly check your parent’s eyesight to ensure that they have the right lenses if their eyesight is deteriorating.

  • Talk to your doctor: Talk to your doctor and seek an assessment of your elderly parent’s risk of falling. Your GP will be able to suggest a strategy for fall prevention tailored to your parent. Seek advice from your doctor on whether prescription medicine might increase the risk of falls and whether there may be alternatives that reduce the risk of falling.

Caring for an elderly parent after a fall

If your parent has suffered from a fall, it is important to have them assessed by a Doctor to check for injuries. If it is a serious injury, call an ambulance, but otherwise take them to the GP or have them visited by a Doctor at home. 

Falls are a common cause of broken bones in the elderly. If this happen you will need to help prepare the patient for even more restricted mobility.

Broken bones will take longer to heal, and during the healing process the patient will not be able to get up and move around without assistance.

Some even have a hard time moving around in bed, and you will need to help them move or roll over in order to avoid bed sores.

Make sure to find the right beds and chairs to keep the bed sores away, and ensure that they are eating properly, doing what exercise they can, and using the bathroom.

If you are concerned about your elderly parent after they have had a fall, and your GP is closed for the night or the weekend, you can call 13SICK (13 7425) and book an after hours home doctor. Our doctors work collaboratively with our elderly patients’ GPs and other health care workers to ensure continuity of care with medications, treatment and follow up. 

The road to rehab

Rehab will be painful and demanding on the elderly parent, and it will take all of your positivity to help them stay cheerful with the work they will be forced to do.

Joint injuries can take much longer to heal than simple broken bones, so prepare your parent for months spent doing rehab every few days.

One important thing to remember is that your parent needs to know the injury wasn’t their fault.

Some injuries are pathological, meaning they occurred without any fall or trauma the result of old bones.

They will always suffer the guilt of “what if I had avoided it?” so you need to remind them that it’s not their fault.Most importantly, find ways to entertain the parent now that they are relegated to their bed.

The last thing they want to do is spend hours staring at the walls and ceiling, so install a TV in their room, bring them a stack of books, and make sure they have plenty of things to keep them entertained and occupied.

Look after yourself too

You, as the caregiver, need to be able to spend time away from your elderly parent.

Now that their mobility is limited, the demands placed on you will be much greater.

You need to be able to sleep, exercise, eat properly, and relax.

Your parent needs to know that they aren’t a burden on you, but you cannot dedicate all of your time to helping them.

Make sure to take time out for yourself.