"I'm falling and I can't get up."
Remember that silly commercial? It brought belly laughs 20 years ago. But not today. Especially when it's your parent who's at risk.
"A fall is the number one reason for a senior's illness or death," said Kerry Hopkins, Care Manager for HomeWell Senior Care in Seattle. "Our bodies can handle the impact of a fall, but for seniors, it's another story."
We can't follow our parents around all day long, but we can work with them to reduce the risk of falls. Here are a few of Hopkins' pointers.
1. Most falls occur at night.Upon waking, either low or high blood pressure can trigger dizziness and/or disorientation. If your parent feels lightheaded, encourage him or her to sit for a moment before trying to stand.
2. A corollary to the above: Place nightlights in both your parent's bedroom and in the bathroom. Seniors rely on light--both in the room they're leaving and in their destination--to help with balance.
3. In the evening, encourage your parent to limit, not only liquids, but also sugary foods. The energy rush can spark shakiness, possibly resulting in a fall.
4. Fluids in the daytime are great! They help prevent dehydration and urinary track infections, both potential causes of falls.
5. Check the house, especially stairs. "Falls happen most on the bottom two stairs or the top two stairs," Hopkins says. Marking those stairs with tape or fabric may encourage safety. Another home safety tip: clear walkways of toys, books, etc.
6. Most important? "Learn to slow down and think before you move," says Hopkins. It's good advice for our aging parents--and ourselves.