I Need Advice to Help Senior Loved Ones Age in Place
My in-laws have both developed chronic health conditions over the last year. On several occasions, my husband and I have tried talking with them about selling their old house and moving to a senior living community. But they tell us they “aren’t ready yet” and that they want to age in place.
While we understand they want to stay in their house as long as possible, we are concerned about their safety. Each of them has had a fall in the past few months that required a trip to the emergency room. We suspect there have probably been more falls they haven’t told us about.
Since we can’t convince them to move, we know we need to figure out what steps we can take to help them safely age in place. We are especially concerned about what we can do to prevent falls. We know they can be very dangerous for seniors.
Do you have any information you can share with us?
Steps You Can Use to Help a Senior Loved One Age in Place
This concern is one we hear from families every day! Aging in place can be a tough balancing act. Many seniors are unknowingly sacrificing their safety in order to remain at home. So we thank you for this question and the chance to share the answer with readers.
It is understandable that falls are one of your top concerns. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research shows that falls are the leading cause of injuries (and even death) among older adults. Researchers from The Ohio State University found that if a senior has experienced a fall that caused a head injury, one third of them will end up back in the emergency room in the next 90 days.
These concerns for seniors are why we created our Live Well at Home program. Here are some suggestions you can use to help your in-laws stay safer at home.
Live Well at Home
Since it sounds like falls are your biggest concern, we’ll share what we know about fall prevention. It begins with tracking down the reason each of your in-laws experienced a fall and taking steps to address it.
A few of the most common reasons older adults suffer a fall are:
1. Vision Problems: This one is easy to overlook, but it is a leading cause of falls among seniors. Undiagnosed glaucoma, cataracts or other age-related vision problems can make it more difficult to safely navigate around. It might also be that your in-laws haven’t visited the eye doctor lately, and need to have the prescription on their glasses adjusted.
2. Environment: Since you mention your in-laws live in an old home, their environment is probably not senior-friendly. Uneven stairs, poor lighting, and unsafe bathrooms all increase the risk for a fall. A licensed physical therapist can help you assess the safety of your loved ones’ home. If you live near a Benchmark community, you can Schedule a Home Visit and one of our team members will help you identify some of those challenges.
3. Nutrition: Poor nutrition can make seniors less steady on their feet. Sometimes transportation to and from the grocery store makes it harder for them to eat well. Other times it is trouble planning and preparing meals. Home-delivered meal services might be a solution to help your in-laws stay on track with good nutrition.
4. Medication Side Effects: As we grow older, our bodies process medication differently. It puts seniors at higher risk for adverse reactions and side effects. And some drugs frequently prescribed for older adults can cause dizziness. Talk with your in-laws’ physician and/or pharmacist to see if a problem with their medication is an underlying cause of either of their falls.
5. Sedentary Lifestyle: Once a senior has experienced a fall, they are usually afraid they will fall again. With good reason. Older adults who have had a fall are two to three times more likely to fall again. It often causes them to limit their physical activity and become more sedentary. The truth is, engaging in strength training, endurance exercises and stretches are some of the best ways to stay free from falls.
We would also like to invite you to attend a Live Well at Home event at one of our communities. We encourage you to contact the Benchmark Senior Living community nearest you to learn more about these free community events!