Statistics show that 1 out of 3 elderly aged 65 will fall at least once a year. This likelihood increases to 50% once they reach 80 years old. It is common for the elderly to not report falls or seek medical assistance unless they are really injured and this can be a problem. Unaddressed risk factors for falls have a 30% chance of leading to recurrent falls, meaning those who have fallen once will likely fall again. To avoid such unwanted incidents, it is important to consult a medical professional to assess and treat the possible injuries incurred from the fall. It is also important to address the causes of the fall.
The risk of falling increases with age. Impaired vision and poor coordination and muscle weakness and imbalance are age-related factors that can even be exacerbated by certain medical conditions common to the elderly such as Parkinson’s diseases, osteoporosis, cataracts and glaucoma. Medications can also affect vision, balance and alertness which may lead to loved ones hurting themselves.
The risks are not limited to health issues though. There are environmental factors as well that put your elderly loved ones at risk of getting hurt such as wrong footwear or eyewear, inadequate lighting in their homes, unsecured carpets, uneven and slippery floors and even chairs or beds that are the wrong height can lead to unwanted fails.
As the likelihood increases and the risks are great, falls may occur and it is important to know how to handle the situation as well as where to seek help should your loved one need it.
Here are five steps and tips to remember if your loved one suffers a fall:
If you’re loved one is able and wishes to get up from the ground, offer your assistance and support them as they get up. Do not carry them. They must be able to get up by themselves. If not, then consider calling 1777 for a non-emergency ambulance so a professional can determine the extent of their injuries.
Do not rush your loved one as they attempt to get up. Do not pull or carry their weight. If they experience pain or feel tired from the effort and strain during their attempt, stop. Wait until they are ready before resuming. If they cannot get up, call an ambulance.
Here are 7 steps to help your loved one safely get onto a chair:
A check-up with a doctor could ensure that they did not sustain any injuries from the fall so encourage your loved one to go in for an overall assessment.
If your loved one suffered a serious injury from the fall such as broken bones or heavy bleeding or is unconscious, do not attempt to move them. Call 995 for Emergency Medical Services immediately and look after your loved one as you wait for help to arrive. An ambulance will take your loved one to the hospital where a doctor can properly assess the physical state of your loved one and determine the extent of the injury. Surgery and an extended stay at a hospital may be necessary.
Falling takes quite a toll on your loved one’s confidence and they may feel fearful of falling again. This may lead them to stop performing daily activities or their usual routines. A sedentary lifestyle may be detrimental to their health as it may weaken their muscles and increase their likelihood of falling again.
It is therefore important to ease your loved one’s fears and reassure them that staying active and healthy is the best way to avoid another fall. Sit down with them and hear out their worries and fear. Encourage an open conversation so they can regain their confidence to move around again.
If your loved one did not have a serious fall and can still get up and move around, encourage them to visit their doctor for a check-up. Although your loved one seems fine, a doctor may be able to determine the real extent of their injuries if any and may be able to provide insight on the cause of their fall. It is important to determine the cause of the fall so that it can be prevented from happening again. A physiotherapist in Singapore can help your loved one regain their strength and return to their day to day activities.
If your loved one had a serious fall, they might need assistance with moving or walking or perhaps require additional medical care. Care options after they are discharged from the hospitals include Nursing Homes, Domestic Helpers and Home Care.
Nursing homes are ideal for elders who need specialized care and attention such as eating, bathing, moving and others. Food and in-house activities are provided for patients and residents. Nursing care is provided by trained staff and nurses who can look after your loved ones round the clock. Costs may total up to $2,000 a month.
Hiring Domestic Helpers will give your loved one an additional helping hand around the house. This is ideal for elderly loved ones who have low needs and can look after themselves. They may however have trouble with buying and cooking their own food and housekeeping and Domestic Helpers can do these tasks for them. Costs begin at $570 a month.
Home Care can accommodate the elderly who has a variety of care needs. Caregiving and Nurses can be provided in the comfort of their own homes. Retire Genie can provide services such as specialized care, companionship, cooking, light chores and others. Fees are charged at an hourly rate of $20.
The following is an overview of healthcare professional services and their rates that you may avail for your loved one after a fall:
Public Orthopaedic Surgeon
For Subsidized Singapore Citizens
For Subsidized Permanent Residents
Consultation Rates (w/out GST)
Physiotherapy – First Visit
(Consultation + Treatment)
Physiotherapy – Subsequent Visit
(Consultation + Treatment)
Elderly Care Provider
Fees before Subsidies
Part-Time Caregiver (hourly)
Assisted Living (Basic Service Package of 15-year lease)
Nursing Home (monthly)
There are environmental factors that may be the cause of their fall. It is important to do a quick check to see that no hazards are lying around. Here are a few things to watch out for:
Slippery surfaces such as the bathroom floor can be a cause of accidents. Installing grab bars and non-slip mats can prevent such incidents. Secured carpets and remove rugs that may cause your loved one to trip or slip and make sure the floor is clutter-free.
Wires and cords are hard to see because on their floor and if your loved one fails to notice them, it may lead to an unwanted accident. Tie up cords and keep them off the floor.
If your loved one already has bad eyesight, dim lighting might have the fumbling in the dark. Making sure there’s adequate lighting in areas of the house, and installing nightlights can ensure that your loved ones can see where they are going.
Two storey houses may have staircases that are poorly designed. Make sure there is sturdy handrail support for your loved one and that the furniture such as chairs and beds are adjusted for your loved ones to avoid any unnecessary bending over that may cause them to lose balance and fall.
Falls can also indicate medical issues that your loved one may need to have checked. It would be ideal to have their doctor examine their health and vision to see what could be the possible health factors of their fall. Health factors such as diseases can affect balance, coordination and impair cognition. Parkinson’s Disease, Osteoporosis and Glaucoma can affect vision and weaken muscles while some medications such as sedatives may cause unsteadiness as a side effect.
It is also good to consider the things they use daily such as prescription glasses and footwear. Out of date lenses may lead to falls and so does ill-fitting footwear. Encouraging your loved ones to lead an active lifestyle can also keep them strong, preventing future falls to occur.
Knowing the great risks of falling and the steps to take if your loved one does take a fall will help prepare you in the event it happens. However, it is still best to take all precautionary measures to make sure it doesn’t. An In-Person Care Assessment can help assess the safety of your household. It would ease your worries knowing a professional eye had determined your home as a safe zone for your elderly loved ones.