As we age, our sense of movement and balance starts to fail. We begin to stumble, trip, and suffer from dizzy spells. That could be due to joint and muscle issues that prevent older people from lifting their feet up high enough during walks, which is why old people tend to shuffle along when they walk.
Falls are one of the leading causes of injuries among older people and lead to 90% of the cases involving the elderly that are brought into Emergency Rooms around the world. Most falls aren’t very serious, and, with a little care and healing time, the patient can be back to normal in no time.
Unfortunately, some falls result in sprained or broken bones, and those older patients will rapidly decline if they are not cared for and supported during their recovery period. Below are six tips for looking after an elderly patient after a fall.
As people get older, if they do not stay active and exercise regularly, they start to lose muscle mass and become weaker quickly. Old age is often a very sedentary period for retired people, and you need to encourage your older patients to stay active.
The same applies to the recovery period after a fall; if your patient doesn’t exercise, they will find physical activity much harder after they recover. After the initial healing period following a fall incident, implement a routine exercise program that is easy to follow.
2. Healthy Diet
When you’re younger, and your body works optimally, you don’t struggle with vitamin deficiencies – and you can therefore live a normal life with relative ease. Older people have more specific dietary requirements and often benefit from introducing vitamin and mineral supplements in conjunction with a healthy diet.
A clean and healthy diet filled with vegetables, seeds, and nuts is a vital part of the recovery journey following a fall injury. Make sure your patient gets plenty of calcium and vitamin D in their diets, either through food choices or supplements. These are vital building blocks for speeding up the recovery journey and they can help to prevent damaging injuries from any more falls.
3. Fall Prevention Techniques
The last thing your patient needs during their recovery is to suffer another fall. Fall prevention techniques are crucial for avoiding further injuries. Assess their homes or rooms and remove anything that could lead to a fall, such as loose rugs or trailing wires.
Ensure their space is clean and tidy, and if possible, install hand rails to make moving around simpler for them. Install ramps instead of stairs and keep their walkways clear. That will help to prevent falls and give your patient ample time to heal in a safe space./
4. Medicate Responsibly
If your patient has been prescribed medication to help them manage their pain following a fall, you are responsible for ensuring that they take it responsibly. After a fall, older patients often lose their reasoning and faculties for a short while, which means that they might struggle with their medication needs.
Read the labels on their medication and ensure they take it when and as necessary, paying attention to the requirements. Some medication leads to drowsiness and impairment, which means your patient will likely need to have a nap afterward. Other medications should be taken after a meal, or your patient could end up with ulcers.
5. Keep an Eye on Their Injuries
Falls that require stitches need special attention during the first two weeks after the fall. Change your patient’s dressing regularly, and be sure to keep the wound clean and sterilized.
Pain medication can mask the symptoms of infection, and your patient might not immediately notice if the wound takes a turn for the worse. Check on the injury three times a day for the first five days and look for signs of infection, like redness, oozing or swelling.
6. Take It Slow
Older people heal slower than young people do, and because of that – their recovery time will likely be longer. Be patient and don’t push them into activities too quickly. Give them time and space to heal before reintroducing their regular activities.
Let them take extra naps as that will help their bodies recover quicker. As much as they need to resume their regular activities, their health and wellbeing is more important. Let them decide what they are comfortable doing as they recover and respect their need to take things slow. Before you know it, they will be back to their old selves and enjoying their golden years again.