The first day of fall, September 22, 2016 is Falls Prevention Awareness Day. So, let’s talk falls prevention.
We are all aware of the physical harms and financial costs that can result from a fall: scrapes and bruises; broken bones, especially hips, wrists, and ankles; concussions and other head injuries. All of which can lead to emergency room visits and hospitalization. Of course, the best way to prevent these harms is to prevent falling accidents in the first place.
When it comes to falls prevention, again, we tend to focus on physical solutions. We talk about building balance, strength, and flexibility through exercising the physical body; testing vision and hearing; keeping the home free of tripping hazards, increasing lighting, making stairs safe, and installing grab bars.
There’s no doubt that these physical considerations are important. But it is easy to overlook the mental side of falls prevention. Having an active brain is just one more easy way to prevent falls and help to keep our loved ones safe from spills that can lead to further health complications.
Did you know…?
- 60% of older adults with cognitive impairments fall annually, which is about twice as often as observed among their cognitively well-functioning peers. And among patients with dementia, fall frequency reaches as high as 80%.
- Stability and balance, key factors in falls prevention, depend on the proper functioning of complex motor and sensory systems within the brain.
This means that even if the elderly people in your life are relatively high functioning when it comes to their physical bodies, keeping the mind sharp can enhance fall prevention efforts and ensure that their bodies continue functioning well.
What are the best ways to enlist the mind to help prevent the body from falling?
Make sure your loved one is getting proper nutrition and taking the right medications in the appropriate dosages.
Vitamin deficiencies can cause weakness, difficulties with balance, and cognitive impairments. The brain is also responsible for reaction time and reflexive actions. So it makes sense that if the mind is impaired, reaction times could be slower and reflexes less responsive contributing to injury. So getting the proper nutrients is key to brain health. Following a diet that is rich in Iron, Vitamin D, fatty fish, and anti-oxidants supports strong mental health.
Along with proper nutrition, taking precautions when it comes to your loved one’s medications can help keep the mind sharp and prevent falls. Certain prescription drugs, such as diuretics, anti-depressants, and some medications for treating Parkinson’s disease, especially when given in inappropriate doses, may contribute to falls in the elderly because they decrease alertness, reduce motor functioning, or cause dizziness. Support the proper functioning of complex motor and sensory systems within the brain by reviewing the medications and dosages with your loved one’s physician. The right dose can make all the difference.
Exercise is doubly important for keeping both the body and mind healthy.
Not only is exercise important for keeping muscles strong so that your loved one can catch herself when she starts to stumble, but exercise also keeps the mind healthy. There have been several recent studies showing the benefits of exercise when it comes to Alzheimer’s prevention. Science continues to confirm the connection between the mind and exercise. Also, one of the best ways to learn how to control the movements of the body is by exercising on a regular basis and good coordination helps us stay on our feet even on uneven surfaces. So, exercise is doubly important when it comes to the physical and mental components of preventing falls.
Closely connected to exercise is proper hydration. When we exercise, our bodies naturally crave water. Taking in water helps our bodies flush harmful toxins from our kidneys and lymphatic system contributing to the health of our bodies. Hydration is also crucial to keeping the brain functioning well. Did you know the human brain is 75% water? It’s true!
Supporting the proper functioning of our senses.
The senses are important for preventing falls and sensory receptors are dependent on the brain’s functioning properly. Vision and hearing loss are often associated with tripping or a loss of balance. Many cognitive impairments can also impair the senses. For example, strokes can contribute to vision and hearing loss and because of this, having a stroke increases the risk of falls. Keeping the brain healthy is essential to making sure the body and mind are working together in the ways required to maintain proper balance lessening the risk of a fall.
Unfortunately, no matter what we do physically or mentally to prevent our loved ones from falling, sometimes falls happen. In the unfortunate event of a fall, you want your loved one to be as safe and independent as possible. This is where PBE Help comes in. We have products available to keep your loved one Safe At Home and Safe Anywhere she chooses to roam.
Contact us today to discuss how PBE Help is here to catch you and your loved ones when they fall.