Arthritis and the Risk of Falls with the Elderly



Many Alert1 members have expressed concerns about aging in place and arthritis. Many older adults are plagued by chronic joint pain. Although you can temporarily relieve pain with a senior aspirin regimen, there's no official cure for arthritis. Do you know an older adult that has arthritis? Have you noticed any symptoms of impaired mobility with your aging loved ones? If so, Alert1's fall detection system can help protect your senior when the unthinkable happens. 

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How Arthritis Impacts Older Adults

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), arthritis is inflammation of the joints caused by the breakdown of cartilage. This cartilage is what protects bones from rubbing against one another. There are a number of different forms of arthritis. The three common forms of arthritis in older adults are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or gout. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can do a fair amount of damage.

laptop keys/ medical alert system

The most common symptoms of arthritis are joint pain, swelling, stiffness and reduced mobility - all of which can increase the risk of falling. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that one in three older adults over 65 will fall each year. That risk increases for older adults who are living with arthritis. Arthritis ACT, a non-profit awareness group in Australia, reports that the risk of falling is 2.4 times more likely for people who have arthritis. This is due to poor balance, increased pain levels and a loss of strength.

Fall Risks and Prevention Tips for Arthritis Sufferers

At Alert1, we want to reduce the risk of senior falls. That starts by reducing hazards in the home that could lead to falls. Some manageable risk factors to prevent falls include:

  • Poor lighting-Be sure to replace lightbulbs or add night lights in high traffic areas around the home. This is especially important for older adults with impaired vision.
  • Unsafe stairways-One popular prevention method for seniors is to install a lift. The stairway chair lift is a simple way to manage fall risk for seniors. 
  • Missing handrails-Hand rails are extremely helpful for the unsteady senior. Install handrails in the problem areas around the home for your loved one to keep a firm grip and footing.

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  • Improperly labeled medicines-Improper doses of prescribed drugs can lead to potential senior falls or greater health consequences. With our Amy medication dispenser, your older adult can keep track of their regularly scheduled medicine regimen.
  • Clutter-Keeping walkways clear and clutter free is essential in preventing senior falls. A clear path will ensure that your loved one is able to move about the home more freely.
  • Poorly designed furniture, including unstable or low back chairs-You’ve sat on the chair with the shorter leg, or rickety back cushion. Unstable furniture only increases fall risk as older adults have skewed depth perceptions.
  • Wet, waxed or irregular floors- For seniors, slippery floors and hard surfaces in the bathroom and kitchen are especially hazardous. Non-skid mats or mats with slip-resistant backing help combat slick or waxed floors. 

wet floor/ senior safety

The Alert1 Fall Prevention infographic provides simple tips to avoid falls at home in an easy-to-read format.

Alert1 Medical Alerts Provide Help to Arthritis Sufferers In Case of Emergency

Individuals who suffer from arthritis and joint pain may also want to consider purchasing a medical alarm system. This way, if they fall while no one is around and they cannot reach a phone, they need only press a button on a wearable medical alarm necklace to contact emergency services and get help.

An emergency monitoring system for seniors not only helps older adults get assistance in the event of an emergency, but can also offer peace of mind. More seniors are choosing to continue living independently at home, and they and their family caregivers can feel secure knowing that a medical alarm system provides access to help at any given moment should a senior with arthritis fall or otherwise injure themselves.