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CANE NO MORE!

By: Joan Carmen Aranda #nursesheart

elderly couple and caregiver talkingAs quoted by a renowned international model and personality, Tyra Banks; “I wish you have a pleasant trip.” I believe this humorous quote is directed to any model on the runway. Ever heard of the America’s Next Top Model? The ability to walk the runway on high heels is a plus. However, nobody is perfect. We have highs and lows in life. When we experience the lows like for example on the runway the model tripped and fell down, we learn to pick ourselves and go on.

But it is not the case for all of us. As one grows older, they experience limitations in physical abilities even psychological and emotional. That’s when, care providers come in handy. Family members will be there but they need extra help if cases are difficult to bear.

When one trips it means there was a loss of balance. Balance is defined by the Cambridge dictionary as the condition of someone or something in which its weight is equally divided so that it can stay in one position or be under control while moving. The organ responsible for balance or vestibular system in the body is the labryinth in the inner ear. It interacts with other systems such as the visual, skeletal, brain and nervous systems in the body that affects gait and steadiness.

Gait and balance are the common issues for elderly or older adults, and because of the aging effects, fall has been a risk factor to injury. As a care provider, it is a big fat NO! Let me stress out that, we once enjoyed life when our needs were provided and we were taken care of by our parents or grandparents. Now that they are aging, it is our turn to give back the love and care. Caring for them also means we have to prevent the major factor that keeps them mostly in bed for a long time because wound heals slower with old age. This fact has been proven since World War I.

Injury, loss of independence, limited quality of life, and disability are the effects of fall to the elderly if not prevented. As a care provider, I have experienced caring for an elderly who had her hip dislocated because she slid down in the bathroom. It is honestly difficult to lift or position my elderly patient who claims that her hip hurts badly and she has difficulty moving on her own. I really do want that she will experience pain in the most minimal level. While on bed due to disability, repositioning her help prevent pressure sores. Because pressure sores are also painful. Pressure sores or decubitus ulcer is defined as an injury to skin or underlying tissue due to prolonged pressure on the area.

One of the causative factors to these problems is loss of balance. Common limitations to them physiologically are arthritis and orthostatic hypotension genetically predisposed or due to certain medications. Also, balance disorder is caused by underlying medical conditions and not an inevitable consequence which is aging with symptoms such as dizziness, dyspnea, diminished strength, limited range of motion… Senile gait disorder is used to describe the disturbance in gait patterns if there is no underlying disease identified. This correlates to cardiovascular diseases, institutionalization, dementia… Any disruption of the systems of the body by the vestibular system will cause the imbalance. Falls will eventually raise as America’s baby boomers gets older.

What are the measures to prevent falls in the elderly?

  1. Talk openly with your healthcare provider about falls.
  2. Exercise to improve your balance and strength like, Tai Chi.
  3. Have your eyes and feet checked at least yearly.
  4. Remove things you can trip over (like papers, books, clothes, and shoes) from stairs and places where you walk.
  5. Remove small throw rugs or use double-sided tape to keep the rugs from slipping.
  6. Have grab bars put in next to and inside the tub, and next to the toilet.
  7. Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors.

References:

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