Age is just a number. Although it’s true that we may be kids at heart, not when it comes to our bodies.
Think of your body as a machine. The older it gets, the more prone it is to errors and becomes dysfunctional at some point. Even if you perform regular maintenance, nothing lasts as long as the sturdy condition it was in when it was brand new. However, we still try to take good care of it and hold on to it as long as we can.
It is the same with our bodies. When we take good care of ourselves, such as eating a balanced diet, it helps us prevent illnesses and strengthens our immune system, and regular exercise helps build our muscle coordination, endurance, and balance.
As a result, our bones and muscles become stronger, and we can live our lives longer and perform regular daily activities effortlessly.
So if you’re wondering how a 90-year-old can still walk and run, now you know Granpa and Granny’s secret! But it’s not yet too late to be active, and we can’t control falling because our bodies, by old age, tend to be weaker.
And whether we like it or not, people aged 65–84 lose 1.5% of functional strength per year. It is one of the causes that leads to the loss of independence, balance and mobility, body mass, confidence, and self-image.
By age 75, about 50% show a decline in the function of the vestibular system (inner ear), and the rest go on like a domino effect and can later result in dementia.
What is dementia?
Ever wondered how your loved one forgets to wear her slippers when she goes outside the house? You may think, “Oh, it’s just a coincidence and it’s only happened once.” The next thing you know, she forgets to take a piss in the bathroom and ends up with a soaked jammy.
Then the cycle goes on and just keeps on getting worse. Daily activities are affected, and they shouldn’t be ignored. It could be dementia.
In dementia, the loss of cognitive functioning (thinking, remembering, and reasoning) has progressed to the point where it is interfering with a person’s everyday activities and activities of daily living. Some people suffering from dementia are unable to manage their emotions, and their personalities may change as a result.
How can a physical therapist help memory loss patients?
Did you know that an average of 4.05 falls per year happen in assisted living facilities with patients who suffer from memory loss?
On the other hand, half of that, or about 2.3 on average, are falls from those residents who do not suffer from dementia. That’s a whopping 50% decline, which proves how dementia can severely affect one’s balance, coordination, and overall daily living activities.
The help of home health agencies that offer in-home physical therapists can aid with the proper recommendations from a specific range of motions tailored to your needs to improve mobility in older adults. And we have listed a few recommendations you can do at home with your loved ones.
Dementia patients tend to have the following signs and symptoms (not considering the environmental factor) that contribute to the increase in falls:
- Physical weakness, gait changes, balance deficits (sitting and standing), loss of position or movement sense,
- Lack of exercise or initiation of activity
- Memory impairment, poor safety awareness, and sequencing
- Visual-spatial problems: misjudging steps, uneven terrain, changes in color 5. Fatigue, restlessness, wandering, sundowning
- Medication side effects: blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, and oxygen saturation
- Discomfort: inability to express or describe agitation or negative behaviors. 8. Proper nutrition and hydration, blood sugar issues
- Toileting urgency: urinary or bowel issues.
Although dementia has no cure, slowing down its progression is possible. As well as addressing issues that will help them improve their lives, such as fall prevention.
A physical therapist can help memory loss patients prevent the risk of falling by strengthening the body with personalized movement or by giving guardians, caregivers, or seniors knowledgeable advice and recommending useful pieces of equipment for fall prevention.
So we’ve summed up some fall prevention tips to help your seniors prevent falling.
1. Clear your seniors’ space and environment.
A messy room contributes to the possible cause of a fall. Even those who have a healthy physique can trip when it’s blocking their way. Clearing one’s space may be a basic to-do list to help prevent falls, but it has been proven to minimize senior falls.
2. Install grab bars and handrails.
Being able to balance one body as a senior is oftentimes a struggle due to weak bones. Ensuring that you are equipped with useful tools in your homes, such as grab bars or handrails, can guide your seniors and help them balance their bodies.
There is also other balancing equipment, and you should consult your physical therapist or occupational therapist for recommended or custom tools for your senior’s needs.
3. Be active and exercise regularly.
It doesn’t have to be a hard-core sweaty exercise. Instead, regular movement, usually advised by your senior’s therapist, can strengthen your loved one’s muscles and improve balance.
4. Avoid stairs and, if possible, let your seniors stay on level ground.
Did you know that stairs are one of the most frequent and significant causes of falls, especially for seniors? Not to mention the body trauma it can cause due to the impact of a fall, especially when it’s from a high point of origin. And a miscalculated step of imbalance can lead to hospitalization.
5. Let your seniors wear non-slip shoes.
No to flip-flops! Slip-on is not as secure as lace-up footwear, so there is the added possibility of motion between the pedestrian’s foot and the sandal footbed. And it can cause a loss of balance.
For more preventive measures, you may consult your therapist to advise you on a more custom program for faster results. We can help your seniors live a healthy life if you live in the area and are looking for an in-home health care services. In partnership with Jojo Rehab Therapy, you are assured of senior quality care in the comfort of your home.
Resources: A free dementia education webinar from Arden Courts of Seminole and Jojo Rehab Therapy