With over 650,000 casualties every year, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. Seniors are especially at risk, as more than 70% of people over 60 have at least one type of cardiovascular disease. In other words, heart disease by itself is something to be worried about. But things get even trickier when heart conditions lead to falling, which accounts for 32,000 deaths each year.
From dizziness to shortness of breath, heart problems come with various symptoms that may cause a senior to lose balance. Plus, some of these conditions may induce a sudden loss of consciousness, resulting in a fall. A good example of that is syncope, commonly called ‘fainting’, which is defined by a temporary loss of consciousness. This condition is usually triggered by dehydration or heat, and often occurs while standing. Other disorders include orthostatic hypotension (when you feel dizzy after standing up too quickly), cardiac arrhythmias, and structural heart disease. People who live with monitored heart problems may also face a higher risk of falling due to medication side effects.
Aging in Place With Heart Disease
Various factors contribute to heart disease and some of them are completely out of our hands, like age and genetics. Even so, there are a few things we can do to decrease the risk of heart conditions such as not smoking, avoiding stressful environments, exercising, and eating a balanced diet.
The same recommendations apply if you already have heart disease, but make sure you also regularly go to your doctor for consistent heart monitoring and to put an action plan in place. For instance, if you also suffer from any other conditions, such as osteoporosis, your doctor will know what exercises and diet plan to recommend.
How To Prevent Fall Injuries
The good news is that when you know that heart disease leads to a higher risk of falling, you can start working on preventing falls and fall-related injuries. Usually, a complete house renovation is necessary, even for seniors who don’t suffer from a heart condition. This means taking falling hazards out of the way, installing grab bars throughout the house, and getting helpful tools like sock aids, bedside commodes, and more. Of course, special attention should be given to the rooms where falls happen the most, like the bathroom and bedroom.
Prevention is just the first step, though. You also have to consider that there isn’t always going to be a grab rail to help. Fortunately, there’s protective gear seniors can wear to prevent serious injuries. For example, hip protectors dissipate the energy of the impact to decrease the chance of a hip fracture. Meanwhile, helmets are great to prevent head injuries.
Using Fall Detection as a Safety Net
But what if a senior falls and loses consciousness? Even if they’re using protective gear and don’t hurt themselves, it’s still necessary to get help as soon as possible. Otherwise, the senior might spend hours on the floor unconscious or without the strength to get back up. The reason why they lost consciousness might also be a symptom of a serious condition that requires assistance right away.
Medical alert systems with fall detection are the perfect safety net for these types of situations. The device is able to detect falls and automatically connect the user to a care team. The care agent will then try to speak with the senior to check if everything’s OK and will send help if they don’t respond. This means that if the user loses consciousness and isn’t able to ask for help, assistance is sent anyway, which can be a lifesaver in emergency situations.
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