In The Blink of An Eye Lives Can Change – Using Artificial Intelligence to Reduce Falls
Plenty of comedians have been falling or tripping for years to get a quick laugh from their audience. But falls are no laughing matter when you’re older: Every year nearly 20,000 people die from a fall, over 1/2 million will be hospitalized, and well over 1.3 million will land in the emergency room. Every day more than 1,000 people break their hip, hurling them down a path toward medical complications, loss of independence and even death. And if you’ve fallen and stumbled before, you’re three times more likely to do it again. That said, it’s important to be concerned about reducing an aging parent’s chances of falling. Our guide to preventing falls will help you to do that.
Most of us think that the best way to reduce someone’s chances of falling is to simply remove obstacles around the house. It’s a start, but there’s so much more to consider. Here is what you want to look for:
• Medications. Review medications and see if dizziness is listed as a side effect. Ask your parent if they feel drowsy or dizzy within an hour of taking the medication. If so, check to see if the medicine can be taken at bedtime, or ask the doctor if there is an alternative drug. If a parent is taking a diuretic (water pill) and needs to urinate frequently, it would be good not to take that medication at bedtime, as it will cause him or her to get up during the night, increasing the risk of falling. Advise them to stay clear of alcohol, as it often contributes to dizziness when taken with medications. And if your parent has blood pressure problems, monitor it closely, as high or low pressure can cause a loss of balance, which can lead to falls.
• Vision and Hearing. If your parents suffer from age-related eye diseases, such as macular degeneration, glaucoma or cataracts, they won’t be able to negotiate steps or see obstacles, and their sense of balance might be affected. They should see an ophthalmologist to treat these conditions. Another place worth checking out is the National Federation for the Blind’s online resources for seniors which is full of useful information, as well as a helpful list of state-by-state organizations that can be of service for those living with low vision. Also visit the optometrist to make sure your parents’ prescriptions are up to date. Changes in hearing can also trigger loss of balance, so have their ears and hearing examined.
• Walking, Muscles and Bones. Be sure to take a look at what kind of shoes your parents wear. Are they the right size? Are they rubber-soled and low-heeled? Are they wearing long pants that are easy to trip over? Do they wear slippers around the house that provide no support, flip-flop or glide across the floor? If your parents have a strength or balance problem, then they should try using a cane or walker to steady their gait. Your parents must keep their bones and muscles in good shape. Older people who exercise, lift weights and stretch survive falls (and are less likely to fall in the first place) better than their couch potato counterparts.
If your parents have taken falls before, it would be helpful if you went over with them how they fell, how falls can be dangerous and the events that led up to it. Did they take a pill beforehand? What were they wearing? How did they feel before the fall? What time of day did it happen? See if you can find any pattern to share with their doctor.
At Care Angel, we believe it shouldn’t take a “WAKE-UP CALL” to force a harsh reality-check on those living alone or spur families into a flurry of action. The sad reality is most seniors don’t have much assistance.
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