“Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” has practically become part of American culture at this point, but sometimes medical alert systems aren’t enough- that’s why you’ve moved your elderly parent to a senior living community. Part of the reason is the fear of falling, as falling for seniors can often be detrimental, leading to broken bones and long healing times, so avoidance is key. Senior living communities here in Chicago, from Artis, to Brookdale, to Presbyterian Homes take steps by ensure the health and safety of their residents.
When working with elderly in senior care one of the most important things to know is a resident's history, this includes their medical and cognitive history, as well as if they’ve ever fallen in the past. Knowing if a resident suffers from symptoms like vertigo can be key in keeping the appropriate living environment to fit their needs. Also being aware of what medications residents take and their side effects is good for fall prevention. Cognitive wellness also plays a role in falling diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s can greatly affect balance. Parkinson's specifically has a symptom of postural instability and gait disturbance (PIGD) which can lead to falls. Knowing falling history can also be helpful in assisted living facilities so staff can try to avoid past problems.
Another helpful way a senior living facility avoids falls is preventative exercise and workout plans that focus on a resident's core muscles. Exercises that emphasize balance are key and many can be done inside without gym equipment.
Tripping can often lead to a fall for seniors so avoiding tripping hazards is important to senior care facilities. One way to do this is by minimizing clutter in residents' rooms and walkways. Staff should be attentive to fallen items and displaced furniture. Adding grippy flooring in areas is also helpful. Marking any step or ramp incline brings awareness to seniors on the obstacle and helps them ask for assistance if needed.
Hand and guard rails are also useful tools of avoidance. Many senior care facilities are careful in the placement of these by placing them in key areas like by beds, toilets and bathtubs can help seniors maintain their balance in tough situations. In long stretches of hallway rails are also useful to help with fatigue when walking by giving residents a place to hold for stability.
As we age our eyesight often declines too, so by having areas well-lit it helps to improve senior's awareness of their surroundings which can help them reduce trips and falls. Proper bright lighting is both cost effective and easy. Key areas such as communal spaces, bedrooms, and hallways should always have good lighting.
Another key aspect to fall avoidance in assisted living is adequate staff and aids. Residents should always be able to contact staff via call buttons or other tools. Having friendly staff available and ready to help and assist reduces the chances of a senior trying to do something on their own with the potential risk of a fall or injury.
When looking into senior living in the Chicagoland area these 6 tips are a necessity for any facility to avoid falls for the wellness of your loved ones. Whether in Barrington, Lake Barrington, North Barrington, Lake Zurich, Deer Park, Inverness, Bull Valley, Crystal Lake, Schaumberg, and Hoffman Estates, safety should be a top priority while you age!