Janet was concerned about her 82-year-old mother’s risk of falling, but was afraid to hurt her feelings.
“I noticed the last time I visited that Mom had these throw rugs in her living room, and I almost slipped on one myself,” Janet said. “And I’ve asked her in the past if she wants grab bars in her bathroom, but she always says not to bother. She gets kind of defensive when I bring up topics like this.”
Janet’s mother, Emma, was my new client. As her care manager, I had noted safety issues in my recent assessment as well. “Let’s talk about how to approach it,” I said. “I know your mom wants to age at home. Reducing her risk of falls will help her stay healthy and as independent as possible, meaning that she can stay in her home.”
In fact, falls are a leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older adults, and can result in broken bones and head injuries. Common physical factors that increase fall risk for seniors include vision problems, balance and coordination difficulties, side effects from medications, as well as illnesses and chronic health conditions, such as COPD or congestive heart failure, which can make it difficult for the senior to get around. Emma had arthritis, but it was manageable and she did short, daily walks around her neighborhood. This exercise was good for maintaining her strength and mobility.
“The most common areas where falls occur are in the kitchen and bathroom,” I said. “And some simple ways we can help prevent a fall are to keep items within easy reach for your mother, use nightlights in the bedroom and bathroom, install grab bars near the tub and toilet, and of course, remove clutter and those slippery throw rugs.”
As it happened, Emma was receptive to these ideas once she realized the intent was to keep her as independent as possible at home. She didn’t want to end up in the hospital or a nursing home because of injuries due to a fall.
Aging at home is possible with thoughtful planning and a safe environment. However, as a senior’s health and mobility change over time, even the “safest” home may present challenges for a frail older adult. As Emma’s care manager, I’ll monitor how things are going on a regular basis, and work with her family to make changes to her care plan as needed.
If you or someone in your family are facing aging challenges, please give us a call at 585-787-0009 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be happy to assist!