Senior At Home Care Solutions For Loved Ones With Fall Risks
Have Mom and Dad fallen or suffered injuries at home recently? Do they seem to be gradually losing strength and energy? When physical decline interferes with everyday activities, home life becomes risky. If you worry about your aging parents' safety but can't pinpoint a problem, don't head for the nursing home just yet. A little support may be all they need to combat geriatric weakness and improve the quality of their lives. Your local senior at home care agency can help.
There's no mystery behind the conditions associated with aging. Normal wear and tear on the body combine with chronic health conditions to reduce strength and stamina over time. Why? Once human muscle and bone mass peaks in adulthood, it decreases, and so does physical performance. This process is the same for everyone, but the rate and degree of change and its effect on motor skills varies from person to person.
Think of the human body like a new car: straight from the showroom, it takes a while for the roadster to get up to speed. Then it runs like a champ for several years. But as it hits potholes and the belts and bolts wear out, performance dips. Sooner or later, it's not safe to drive any more. Return trips to the mechanic indicate a need for something more than an oil change. When Mom and Dad fall or get hurt every so often, it's a serious trend, not a series of isolated accidents. The Centers for Disease Control report that seniors who have fallen once have double the risk of a repeat episode.
Are you uneasy about Mom and Dad staying home alone? Take a look at some common senior health conditions to see if they might be causing your parents to struggle in their living situation. Then learn more about how senior at home care can keep them strong and independent for as long as possible.
Falls and Injuries
Do you remember how high mileage slowed that old car down? Likewise, reduced strength, flexibility, endurance, and balance make housekeeping and maintenance more difficult for seniors. Bending, stretching, or heavy lifting may strain Mom and Dad beyond their abilities, causing a slip, trip, or fall. These setbacks further drain their reserves, making it harder for them to get around and take care of themselves.
Weak and recovering muscles can tear from the burden of cleaning floors, making beds, or carrying groceries. Tasks that were once simple now pose risks for injuries that could land your parents in a nursing home. They might lose their balance on the front steps or while using a stepladder and break an ankle. They may wrestle with bulky items and sprain a wrist, or slip and fall trying to retrieve what they dropped.
As statistics show, tumbles and traumatic injuries that inconvenience younger people are much more serious for seniors. People over 65 are more likely to break bones and hit their heads during falls. They are slower to mend. They may need help with everyday chores during their recovery, but might be unwilling to ask for assistance. A rise in accidental injuries is probably due to increasing frailty. This condition progresses over decades and may go unnoticed by those who see Mom and Dad every day. If you hear a visiting relative exclaim, "Grandma, you've shrunk!", look for some underlying clues. Which of these symptoms do you see or suspect in your aging parents?
- Slow gait
- Weight loss
- Joint stiffness
- Knee or hip pain
- Neck or back pain
- Limited range of motion
These signs may point to a loss of muscle or bone mass that is affecting Mom's or Dad's overall health. Problems with balance, lifting, reaching, sitting, standing, sleeping, and other activities may arise. It might be time to counteract nature with some extra support. Senior at home care agencies screen, hire, and train in-home caregivers, who take on the little jobs that have begun to make home life difficult--and dangerous.
Decline of the Muscles, Joints, and Bones
The National Institutes of Health recognize a set of conditions that can interact with other health problems to leave seniors frail and vulnerable to debilitating injuries. If your parents are overweight or underweight to begin with, the effects will be more dramatic. Consider three common contributors to weakness and frailty:
Sarcopenia is the progressive loss of muscle mass that occurs once the growing body has reached its peak. Muscle tissue builds up through a person's twenties and then starts to wane after about age 30. In older adults, inactivity, lack of appetite, and reduced nutritional intake can cause a greater or faster than normal loss of muscle mass. Sarcopenia is the reason behind many torn muscles and ligaments that occur in seniors due to seemingly mild exertion. Surgery may be necessary to repair painful shoulder rotator cuffs and knee ligaments. Weakened spinal muscles can cause chronic pain and disability in the neck and back. Poor muscle control can lead to balance problems.
Arthritis affects aging joints and bones in which the protective cartilage has worn away. Without this cushioning tissue, bones and joints scrape together when in motion. This makes walking, climbing stairs, or working with the hands painful. The aches resulting from inflammation discourage exercise and encourage a more sedentary lifestyle. Less activity means poorer muscle tone.
Osteoporosisis a severe loss of bone strength and density that occurs when a person's rate of bone loss exceeds the body's ability to produce or maintain bone cells. Like muscle development, bone density peaks in everyone by early adulthood and then begins to decline. When it falls to a certain level, the bones become brittle and weak, and are prone to break easily. Some causes for developing osteoporosis are being too thin or taking certain medications over long periods. Other risk factors include calcium and vitamin D deficiency. Osteoporosis is of great concern to seniors, because the older you get, the greater your chances of experiencing serious bone loss.
Help Is on the Way Through Senior At Home Care
Senior at home care can help with routine chores and everyday tasks, removeing some of the physical stress to preserve seniors' health. Minus overhead reaching and heavy lifting, Mom's osteoporosis or Dad's arthritis might not interfere with moderate activity. Avoiding bone fractures and joint flare-ups will keep your parents strong enough to do the things they want to do.
Comfort Keepers can provide a qualified professional caregiver to make home visits daily or periodically. Together, you'll decide how much and what kind of help your parents might enjoy. Caregivers can:
- Do laundry
- Dust and vacuum
- Tidy up and remove clutter
- Change light bulbs and smoke alarm batteries
- Shop for and put away groceries
- Plan, make, and serve meals
- Take out trash and recycling
- Bring in mail, newspapers, and packages
Why hire a caregiver instead of a housekeeper? Because senior at home care agencies train their employees in basic health, safety, and emergency procedures. Caregivers can spot safety risks that your parents might overlook, such as falling hazards. They'll address strength and range-of-motion issues by carrying heavy items and organizing cupboards for less reaching. And they'll support good bone health by cooking nutritious meals for Mom and Dad.
If your parents eventually rebound from falls and injuries--but you worry about what might happen next--a professional caregiver may be the answer. Hiring through an agency will allow you to choose from several screened applicants and arrive at the in-home care plan that works best. Staying stronger longer will keep Mom and Dad safe in their own home ... and out of the nursing home.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Role of Dietary Protein in the Sarcopenia of Aging
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Older Adult Falls
Mayo Clinic: Osteoporosis
National Center for Biotechnology Information: Sarcopenia and Physical Frailty: Two Sides of the Same Coin
National Institutes of Health Senior Health: Balance Problems
National Osteoporosis Foundation: Bone Basics
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