You might think, “I don’t need to learn how to decrease my risk of falling.” Maybe you believe that falls are just a result of bad luck or something that happens to other people. Perhaps you assume that falls are a natural and guaranteed part of aging. As a result, you probably think that you don’t need to take action to consider injury prevention.
These statements are far from the truth. In reality, often people fall due to living in unsafe and inaccessible environments, or by engaging in risky behaviour.
Even though you think you might be low risk because of your current health status, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t focus on injury prevention. According to the CDC, it’s possible to prevent roughly 9,500 to 45,000 “medically treated falls” each year.
If you’re a caregiver for an aging family member, you should know that many seniors feel scared to acknowledge their risks openly. They fear that others will see them as weak and that admitting this would lead to losing their independence. They might not want to say anything to you because they want to continue to live in their own home without supervision.
(And if you’re a senior who can relate to these fears, keep reading!)
These fears are valid, but they don’t have to become true. In fact, admitting their risk of falling can help older people prolong a good quality of life for years to come. In today’s post, we’ll explore the benefits that you can experience when you focus on injury prevention.
Injury Prevention: Maintain your Independence for Longer
As we age, we fear losing our identity, since our lives can completely change after retirement or the onset of age-related illnesses. When it comes to our bodies as we get older, our mobility can vary due to aging and illness symptoms. Yet we often aren’t given the tools that we need to continue our daily activities independently, and instead, we’re forced to leave our homes when we don’t want to.
With a sudden new lifestyle, we might experience lower self-esteem and poorer mental health while we struggle to navigate our brand-new lives without a roadmap. This makes sense – everyone feels better when they feel a sense of purpose and a sense of self. And the fear of losing that purpose can cause us to deny our changing needs.
Though we usually will need to depend on other people in our community as we age, it’s still possible to feel like we can control our reality. Injury prevention is a key piece of the puzzle in fostering a good quality of life when we get older.
Independent Living Resources
Studies have shown that after a hip fracture, only 40-60% of people can carry out their daily activities in the ways they did before their injury. A broken hip often leads to seniors moving into a long-term care home prematurely — before they are ready to leave their home.
There is good news. People can often continue living independently in their community if they can access the right resources and tools.
To help facilitate this goal, seniors could consider changing their space to make it more safe and accessible. We recently wrote an article on this topic called How to Make a Comfortable and Safe Home for Seniors.
If seniors want to stay in their homes, they can also consider embracing mobility aids if they wish to prevent falls and injuries. Often, older people hesitate to start using a cane or walker. They see it as a sign of a decline. However, if you use your mobility aid properly, it can actually help immensely. You are more likely to keep your independence and continue the regular activities that you enjoy.
Preserve your health and mobility
The injuries from falls can impact our well-being in scary ways, but facing the facts can help us remain vigilant and motivate us to prepare ahead. Remember, the CDC has stated that many fall-related injuries are entirely preventable.
Falling is too often a common experience for seniors, and one that can lead to serious health consequences. More than 60% of the time when seniors need to seek emergency care at the hospital, it’s because they had a fall. Not to mention, falling even just one time means that we’re twice as likely to fall a second time too.
When it comes to the bathroom, it can be the most dangerous space in your home. 80% of the time when someone falls in their home, it happens in the bathroom.
Often, the outcome is a broken hip. Studies have shown that less than half of seniors will experience a full recovery after breaking their hip. Most people can’t function the same way they did before their fall. Their quality of life changes forever.
The World Health Organization says that globally, falls are currently the “second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths.” No one likes to talk about death, but we need to address the mortality rate from hip fractures. Studies show that within the first year after experiencing a hip fracture, a senior’s likelihood of dying is three times higher than the average mortality rate for elderly people.
If we make modifications to our lifestyle, we can set ourselves up for success. You can start by checking out a free checklist from the CDC where you can assess your own fall risk. For suggestions on how you can avoid future injuries, check out our recent article: “Five Lifestyle Changes You Can Make To Reduce Your Risk Of Falling.”
Protect your finances
Focusing on injury prevention now will help you save money. Your future self will thank you! You can enjoy using your hard-earned income for leisure, rather than spending your money on expenses from a difficult fall.
Why can falling be expensive financially? While OHIP covers a large part of your medical expenses (especially as a senior), you may need extra care that isn’t covered in Ontario. Additionally, you might need to move into a long-term care home, which is an even bigger financial burden.
Perhaps you’re worried about the upfront costs related to fall prevention. Now that you know that many injuries happen in the bathroom, you might worry that it’s too pricey to modify your home. Yes, you want a safer and more accessible bathroom environment – but can you afford it?
Don’t worry! When it comes to your bathroom, we can help you save thousands of dollars on an extensive and time-consuming renovation. We can convert your tub into a walk-in tub in just a few hours, and easily install a grab bar to boost your bathroom safety. You can learn more about our products and services by visiting our FAQ page.