Prof. Akyildiz is an Orthopedic doctor, he retired from academia last year, but he still remains active and examines patients in his private office. I talked with him about his elderly patients and how to prevent falls. He specifically wanted to give suggestions for preventing falls in the home, because he says this is where most of the elderly people fall down.
He told me it is not very easy to categorize these patients. They can be both men and women. Also, he said they can live alone or with their family. If they are with their family or with a nurse, the only benefit is they can get help easily after they fall down. However, it won't prevent them from falls. Even if they are not alone at home, there are activities they do independently, as they cannot be with someone 24/7, it is not possible. Seniors also don't really like that, they don't want to be controled by someone else. He argued that most of the time they are not very easygoing, they are very stubborn in their ways. They don't want to really accept they need help. As a result, he believes, living alone or not, doesn't have much impact on preventing falls, it only has an impact on recovery.
He also claimed there is not a specific medication he can tell that causes more falls, but he says most of elderly people use at least one medication, and some medications have serious side effects, especially if you they get confused and you miss a dose, or double it.
Moreover, he mentioned specific precautions, which can be taken to avoid falls. He said all the rugs should be removed from the house, if they want to have rug, then it can only be wall to wall style carpets, no small or decorative ones. He said rugs are very slippery, and cause serious injuries most of the time.
He believes securing the bathroom is important. Holders should be build for both the toilette and shower. The floor has to be covered with anti slippery material. And, there shouldn't be any steps to get into the shower, it should be build up on the floor. Showers have to have anti slippery material. Also, bathtubs are dangerous and can cause falls. Another most common area is the sink area, it can be hard to keep body balance around this area, and seniors can easily fall.
He also warned me about the steps- he said most of the houses have steps at the entrance of the rooms, even if they are not too high, it is still very dangerous. He specifically said the floor should be flat in the entire home.
In addition to that, if there is any long corridor in the home, there should be a handrail on the wall, he said it is very helpful for seniors to hold on to it when they need it. He added any chair, bed or coach- they shouldn't be very low. Otherwise, it is very easy to lose balance especially while standing up.
He definitely suggests using walkers, especially using at home. He prefers the ones with brakes, and he likes the ones with basket, otherwise it is very hard to carry the belongings.
I asked about him exercising, he believes exercising definitely helps, and there is nothing wrong with start exercising in old age, he said there won't be an effective muscle build up after a certain age, but it certainly will help to build body balance.
I also asked him if he is doing any precautions at his house. He and his wife are 60 years old now. He laughed and said no, not yet. He actually confessed that they just decorated the house, and didn't pay attention to these details.
In conclusion, most of the falls happen inside of the houses, and there are a lot of precautions we can take and prevent falls. I can't help but think about some questions. Are we willing to take these precautions? When is the right time to do it? And will we be ready when the time comes?