According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 50% to 75% of nursing home and assisted living residents in Maryland and across the country suffer one or more falls annually, which can lead to serious injury.
Helpfully, recent studies suggest there are several indicators that signal a person’s likelihood of taking a tumble. Knowing them may reduce your loved one’s chances of falling.
Sarcopenia is the medical term for muscle loss, and it happens to nearly everyone as they age. The phrase has Greek origins and derives from the words sarx, meaning “flesh,” and penia, meaning “poverty.”
Sarcopenia is a degenerative condition determined by genetics, nutrition, exercise level and comorbidities. Typically, it leads to lower life satisfaction, frailty and fractures. It’s also one of the main predictors of injury among older adults.
People with the condition may benefit from regular exercise, even chair aerobics. A well-balanced diet can also help stem muscle atrophy.
Balance and gait
Balance is a physical skill many people take for granted when younger, but it wanes with age. Moreover, lack of steadiness is a leading predictor of nursing home falls.
Individuals who work on their balance throughout life tend to keep it longer. Engaging in sports, dance and yoga into one’s senior years can help with balance and gait. When the situation worsens, using walkers and canes can go a long way in avoiding tumbles.
Also called orthostatic hypotension, postural hypotension is when blood pressure dramatically drops when a person gets up from a sitting or reclined position. Typically, it’s linked to dehydration, prescription complications, prolonged bed rest and excessive amounts of alcohol. Common symptoms include lightheadedness, dizziness and a lack of balance.
If you have a loved one residing in an assisted living facility or nursing home, ensuring they have the proper equipment to mitigate avoidable falls is wise. Additionally, make certain the facility’s support staff is aware of all their medical issues.