Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Seven Ways for Seniors to Avoid Nighttime Falls

Approximately 25 percent of seniors over the age of 65 falls each year and many of those falls take place at night. Between the lack of natural light and disorientation from getting up after being asleep for a few hours, nighttime can easily be the most vulnerable time for an older adult.

If you’re concerned about an elderly loved one and want to make sure they stay safe when moving around at night, keep reading.

Listed below are seven simple adjustments seniors can make to avoid moving around at night and risking nighttime falls.

Common Causes of Nighttime Falls

Many senior falls occur because the victim is struggling with visual impairments. When they’re not able to see clearly, there’s a greater risk of tripping over an object on the ground or missing a step when walking down the stairs.

Chronic health conditions (low blood pressure, dementia, heart disease) and muscle weakness or other impairments can also contribute to a senior’s risk of falling at night.

Preventing Nighttime Falls

Nighttime falls can be incredibly scary for older adults, and they come with a number of serious consequences like sprains, fractures, and even death. Luckily, there are lots of things you can do to improve your loved one’s living situation and decrease the risk of nighttime falls.
1. Improve Lighting

One of the easiest ways to prevent nighttime falls is to make sure your elderly loved one’s home is well-lit in the evening. Installing nightlights in the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and hallways can make a big difference for seniors who need to get up in the night.
2. Reduce Clutter

Another simple solution is to clean up the home so there is less clutter and nothing on the floor that someone could slip on. If there are old stacks of newspapers or mail on the floor, take them to the recycling bin. If your loved one has a habit of dropping clothes and shoes on the floor as they undress, emphasize the importance of putting these things away instead of letting them build up on the ground. Hiring a cleaning service to come in once a week can also be a good way to keep clutter at bay.
3. Install Grab Bars and Railings

Grab bars and railings installed next to the bed, in the bathroom, and along the hallway or staircase can give seniors something sturdy to hold on to and minimize their risk of falling if they have to get up during the night. Grab bars and railings are fairly inexpensive and easy to install, so they’re a great device to help seniors feel safer and more stable at night.
4. Bring the Bathroom to Them

One of the most common places for seniors to fall at any time of day is the bathroom. But, the risk of falls goes up at night, when they’re slightly disoriented or their vision hasn’t adjusted.

To decrease the risk of falling in the bathroom, you may want to look into devices that allow you to bring the bathroom to them. Some tools they can use to avoid a trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night include portable commodes, urinals, and bedpans.

5. Adjust Furniture Placement

Rearranging furniture is also helpful for preventing nighttime falls. Get rid of unnecessary furniture or move it to another part of the house to make sure your loved one has a clear path to the bathroom, kitchen, or anywhere else they might be headed.

6. Improve Sleep Quality

Many seniors end up getting up in the night because they’re restless and have a hard time getting good sleep.

To improve sleep quality, encourage your loved one to exercise regularly, practice relaxation techniques like meditation, and limit their caffeine and alcohol consumption. Sleep-inducing drugs should be a last resort, as they can be habit-forming and often come with side effects like dizziness, which increase a senior’s risk of falling.

7. Get Regular Checkups

Finally, make sure your loved one is going to the doctor regularly. This will help them ensure their vision is where it should be and will help them rule out health problems that increase their risk of falling.

This is a guest blog entry.

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