Although traumatic injuries can occur to people of any age, the elderly are especially vulnerable to brain and spinal cord injuries. These injuries are most commonly caused by falling down. And while it is impossible to guard against all falls, there are certain steps you can take to help ensure your elderly relatives are less vulnerable to a potentially catastrophic injury.
If you live with an elderly relative, the most important step you can take to protect them from falls is to ensure your home is as safe as possible. First and foremost, make sure your floors are clear of any slipping hazards, such as small throw rugs that may be easily tripped over. Second, make sure there are appropriate handrails in places an elderly relative needs to access on a regular basis, including staircases, toilets, showers, and bathtubs. Third, keep in mind an elderly relative may have decreased vision, so take care there is appropriate lighting in all areas of the house. Of course, if your elderly relative lives in an assisted living facility, you should speak with the staff regularly to ensure similar safety precautions are followed.
Beyond addressing any potential safety hazards inside the home, it is equally important to look at an elderly relative's daily routine. Exercise is often one of the best ways to help guard against falls and traumatic injuries. Before starting any exercise plan, you should have your relative consult their doctor and have them review and approve any new exercise routine to ensure it does not conflict with an existing medical regimen.
Additionally, a physician or pharmacist should regularly review your elderly relative's medication regimen. Sometimes prescription and nonprescription medications can produce unintended side effects such as dizziness or lightheadedness, which makes a fall and traumatic injury more likely. Another contributing factor to falls is poor vision, so your relative should receive regular checkups from a qualified eye doctor.
Even if you take every precaution, you still cannot ensure that other people will act in a similarly responsible manner. If an elderly relative falls due to someone else's negligence, any resulting spinal cord or traumatic brain injury may have lifelong consequences. The elderly are particully vulnerable to TBI injuries from falls. In such cases, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney, who can advise you and your family of the law in this area.