Helping Seniors Recover from a Fall
A fall can lead to a fracture and other serious consequences in the elderly, resulting in a lengthy stay in the hospital at a rehab like the Detroit elderly rehab center. This medical emergency is a constant threat as people get older and lose their balance. Recovery is often slow and painful and some may never regain full use of the affected part or be as strong as they once were. To help the senior remain independent after a serious fall, you need to focus on taking specific steps in recovery.
Strengthen Other Muscles
Immobility can lead to muscle deterioration, so work on arm and core strength as well as building muscles in the legs. If one leg was fractured, don’t let the other one sit idle, and the same is true for an injury to an arm.
For those who aren't allowed to get up and walk, you can find sitting exercises that will help keep muscles strong. Light weights in the hands can enhance bicep curls and overhead arm raises. While they will most likely be assigned a physical therapist for some time after being released to go home, it’s up to the family and caregivers to encourage the elderly individual to do the exercises when the therapist isn’t around.
Work on Balance
The ability to balance when walking is reduced with age. However, this doesn’t have to be the case when you do exercises which focus on core stability and strength. For example, seniors can practice standing with both arms raised in front of them or standing on one leg. Work up to standing on one leg with the eyes closed to really challenge their skills in balancing.
Include core exercises which provide stability. While a senior may not be able to do planks and sit-ups due to other health restrictions, they can find modified exercises for the ab area.
Check Your Surroundings
Once a senior returns home, you will want to make sure they are in a safe place. Evaluate their surroundings to remove any trip hazards and move furniture for better traffic flow. Make sure there's easy access to the bathroom from the living area and the bedroom.
Not only will this step help prevent falls in the future, it will provide additional safety now to reduce the risk of re-injury. Whether using a walker, wheelchair or crutches, stability is greatly reduced. Place items within easy reach to avoid the need to get up unnecessarily. While you want them to get plenty of exercise, it shouldn’t be out of need, which can increase their likelihood of falling again.
Ensure Adequate Nutrition
The elderly often have smaller appetites because of lack of exercise, and this issue is exacerbated by reduced activity after a fall. They may fail to eat as much as they should to get the nutrients for healing. Make sure they are eating a decent meal or ask a doctor about a vitamin supplement. Calcium and vitamin D are two nutrients important to faster recovery of fractures.
While an injury from a fall is unpleasant for everyone, it can be deadly for seniors. Three times as many people age 70 and over die from a ground-level fall as those under the age of 70. This is according to a study published in The Journal of Trauma: Injury, Infection, and Critical Care. When a fall does occur, it’s important to work with the senior to ensure as much mobility and independence is restored as possible.