Seniors and Falling

Published On November 19, 2015 | November/December 2015

Falling Is One Of The Major Causes Of Injuries For Seniors

Ways to make your home less prone to fall-related accidents

Monica Saavedra, MPH, MCHES

Many people have a friend or relative who has fallen. The person may have slipped while walking or felt dizzy when standing up from a chair and fell down. Maybe you’ve fallen yourself. If these circumstances have happened to you or an older person you know, you’re not alone. More than one in three people age 65 years or older falls each year. The risk of falling, and fall-related problems, rises with age.

Falls Lead to Fractures, Trauma
Each year, more than 1.6 million older U.S. adults go to emergency departments for fall-related injuries. Among older adults, falls are the number one cause of fractures, hospital admissions for trauma, loss of independence, and injury deaths.
Six out of every 10 falls happen at home, where we spend much of our time and tend to move around without thinking about our safety. Many falls can be prevented by making simple changes in your living areas, as well as making personal and lifestyle changes.

Take steps to “fall proof” your home, both inside
and outdoors. To make your home safer, you can:

 Remove safety hazards.
 Improve lighting.
 Install handrails and grab bars.
 Move items to make them easier to reach.

Tips to “Fall Proof” Your Home
 An important step toward preventing falls at home is to remove anything that could cause you to trip or slip while walking. Tripping on clutter, small furniture, pet bowls, electrical or phone cords, or other things can cause you to fall. Slipping on rugs or slippery floors can also cause falls.

 Move furniture around to give you plenty of room to walk freely. Remove items from stairs, hallways, and pathways.

 Be sure that carpets are secured to the floor and stairs. Remove throw rugs, use non-slip rugs, or attach rugs to the floor with double-sided tape.

 Put non-slip strips on floors and steps. Put non-slip strips or a rubber mat on the floor of your bathtub or shower, as well. You can buy these items at a home center or hardware store.

 At home and elsewhere, try to avoid wet floors and clean up spills right away.

 Be careful when walking outdoors and avoid going out alone on ice or snow. A simple slip on a slick sidewalk, a curb, or icy stairs could result in a serious injury.

 Poor lighting – inside and outdoors – can increase your risk of falls. Make sure you have enough lighting in each room, at entrances, and on outdoor walkways. Use light bulbs that have the highest wattage recommended for the fixture.

 Good lighting on stairways is especially important. Light switches at both the top and bottom of stairs can help.

 Place a lamp within easy reach of your bed. Put night lights in the bathroom, hallways, bedroom, and kitchen. Also keep a flashlight by your bed in case the power is out and you need to get up.

 Have handrails installed on both sides of stairs and walkways. If you must carry something while walking up or down stairs, hold the item in one hand and use the handrail with the other. When you’re carrying something, be sure you can see where your feet are stepping.

 Properly placed grab bars in your tub and shower, and next to the toilet, can help you avoid falls, too. Have grab bars installed, and use them every time you get in and out of the tub or shower. Be sure the grab bars are securely attached to the wall.

If you have fallen, your doctor might suggest that an occupational therapist, physical therapist, or nurse visit your home. These healthcare providers can assess your home’s safety and advise you about making changes to prevent falls. Adapted from National Institutes of Health, www.nihseniorhealth.gov/health.

For more information visit, www.communitycaretx.org.

McIninch/bigstock.com, DoroshinOleg/bigstock.com

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