In the past two posts, I have discussed ways to ensure safe in home care. But we should also look to helping an older parent to be in the best shape possible to avoid even the unforeseen hazards. In this post, I offer nine tips to help “fall-proof” a mom or dad. It is a different way to think about being in the best condition one can be.
- Have your older parent’s vision checked regularly and their corrections updated so that they are able to clearly see any hazard before it becomes a fall.
- Have routine hearing tests that go beyond just sound or noise recognition. Make sure the inner ear is checked because this is where balance comes from.
- If your older loved one has been prescribed a cane or a walker, encourage them to use it, all the while recognizing that this may be a conspicuous embarrassment to a proud senior.
- Find a safe alternative to a chair for an older adult who wants to climb and retrieve objects from high shelves. Help them move frequently used objects to easier accessed shelves.
- Encourage regular flexibility and strengthening exercise which can help keep the muscle tone and nerve responsiveness necessary to be as nimble as possible; dancing may be an appealing option.
- Much as some will object to “sensible shoes,” help them to find comfortable, non-slip footwear that fit their feet; remember that as people age, their feet loose muscle mass and shoe size can change.
- Watch for signs of dizziness upon standing, drowsiness or unsteady posture as these may actually be side effects of medications; consult their physician.
- Talk sensitively about quantities of alcohol consumption and any potential interactions with medications; this is most common with neurologically-active or cardiac medications.
- Keep a diary of any changes you notice along with dates and times of day, and appreciate that older couples tend to compensate for one another to “cover up” embarrassing failings.
Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Case Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit our For The Caregiver page for more information and resources.