Expanding Care
Fall Risk
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By Hilary Young

Companion care is a wonderful thing, and sometimes it’s the only type of care at home an aging adult ever needs. But sometimes a greater level of care is needed; and it’s not always because of a chronic health issue. 

There are other signs to look for when it comes to deciding whether or not to increase your loved one’s care plan. Here’s what to consider when making a decision:

Failing Vision. It’s important to make sure that mom or dad are getting regular eye exams, as failing vision can have a big impact on their quality of life and their health. Even if you have arranged for them to have companion care at home several times a week, their days without a caregiver can become increasingly dangerous. A 2016 study from the medical journal, American Family Physicians, found that “vision loss affects 37 million Americans older than 50 years and one in four who are older than 80 years.” They identified the biggest age-related vision problems as macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetes-related ocular complications, and cataracts. Vision loss can impede movement, contribute to falls, and have a negative impact on overall quality of life. While some types of vision loss can be diagnosed and treated, some are irreversible and would require your aging loved one to make significant changes to their daily lives, including potentially increasing their home care services.

Experiencing Increased Falls. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that each year one in four adults over the age of 65 experiences a fall, and one in five of those falls causes a serious injury, like broken bones or head trauma. While not every fall is fatal, experiencing one fall over the age of 65 doubles your chance of falling again. The fall statistics for older adults, quite frankly, are shocking. Nearly 1 million people are hospitalized every year because of a fall injury, about 300,000 of which are for hip fractures. In fact, more than 95 percent of hip fractures happen because of falls. If your aging parent or loved one has experienced several falls in the past year, the likelihood of them falling again and getting injured in the process is high. Increased falls can also be a common side effect of a larger health issue such as dehydration, low blood sugar, pneumonia, cardiovascular disease, and even Multiple Sclerosis. Protection against injury from falls is a great reason to increase the senior care services that your loved one may already be receiving at home.

Forgetfulness or Aggression. Age-related memory loss occurs on a sliding scale. Sometimes forgetfulness is normal--such as not remembering where you put your keys, or occasionally having trouble recalling certain words--but other times, forgetfulness can be a sign of a bigger cognitive issue, like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. If you notice that your loved one seems to have trouble remembering how to perform tasks that they’ve done many times in the past, or are prone to getting disoriented or lost in familiar places, note that these can be symptoms of a larger memory loss issue. In addition to memory loss, symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s can include a shift in their judgement, leading them to make poor decisions, and also aggressive behavior. If you notice any of these changes in your loved one’s behavior, it would be prudent to talk to their physician about it. In the meantime, making changes to increase their care plan can not only help to keep them safe, but it can also provide you with more peace of mind in knowing that they are well cared for when you can’t be there with them.

Loss of Mobility. There are a variety of factors that can lead to limited mobility, including falls that lead to hip fractures, osteoarthritis, cardiovascular issues, and pulmonary diseases. Regardless of the reason for losing mobility, an article in Harvard Health found that the “loss of mobility, which is common among older adults, has profound social, psychological, and physical consequences.” These profound consequences are attributed to the fact that limited mobility makes it hard to remain active, and many seniors end up opting out of leaving the house because it is too taxing for them. Limitations in mobility can also make it challenging to go to the bathroom, which can lead to urinary tract infections and incontinence. A qualified caregiver, however, can provide your loved one with care at home to help them with the physical demands of their health needs, and allow them to feel less isolated in the process. Depending on the degree of your loved one’s immobility, a caregiver can also encourage and assist mom or dad in getting out of the house regularly without sacrificing their safety.

Illness or Health Concerns. There are chronic diseases and health concerns that warrant an investment in more care at home for a loved one. The National Institute on Aging approximates that 85 percent of older adults have at least one chronic health issue, and 60 percent have at least two chronic conditions. With some conditions, such as Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and ALS (Lou Gerig’s Disease), the loss of physical function is what requires additional care at home. While others, such as diabetes, arthritis, and cardiovascular disease, require strict management in order to improve quality of life and prevent flare ups. While it may seem counterintuitive, for those living with a chronic health issue, a caregiver can actually help to increase their feelings of autonomy and independence.

Senior Care Services You Can Trust

Here at CaregiversDirect, we take pride in our ability to identify talented and empathetic caregivers that we can then match with our clients. If you need to increase the care plan for your parent or loved one, we will work together to figure out the best level of care, whether or not you will need a caregiver with additional certifications, and identify the ideal amount of caregiving hours your loved one will need. Here at CaregiversDirect, we’re always here to help and will always have your back when it’s time to make changes to your caregiving needs. Call one of our Senior Care Specialists to discuss your loved one’s care plan at any time: 1-800-370-3377.