The fear of falling and losing mobility is common in the senior community and it is justified because statistics show that one-third of all non-fatal injuries in the U.S. are caused by falls, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a senior dies from a fall-related injury every 20 minutes.
The CDC provides more data on falls, specifically among the senior community, and it looks like even though at least one in four senior adults have a fall, many do not report it to their physicians. Close to 3 million individuals over 65 get treated in the emergency room and more than 800,000 are hospitalized.
With this much disturbing data on falls, related injuries and deaths, it is imperative to make sure that the seniors in our families stay in a safe environment with minimum risks.
Preventing Trips and Falls at Home
People of all ages fall and get injured, but the elderly find it difficult to recover because of overall frailty and health conditions. With age comes complications like failing vision, loss of balance and weakness, which can all increase the chances of falls among seniors.
While it can be difficult to make the outdoors fall-proof, there are some precautionary measures that can be taken to try and reduce the risk indoors especially for seniors who live alone.
Here’s what can be done to reduce the risk of falling:
- Inspect the living quarters for any possible fall risks
- Make modifications to reduce the risk
- Identify and address medical risks that could lead to a fall
- Correct any vision impairment that could increase your fall risk
- Attend community-based programs that could educate and train individuals on fall-prevention
- Practice exercises like tai chi, yoga or pilates to maintain a strong core and healthy balance
Similar to the steps taken to ensure a child’s safety at home, seniors can reduce the risk of trips and falls by:
- Making sure there is enough room to move around without bumping into furniture
- Ensuring there is enough light in every room
- Eliminating small pieces of furniture like footstools, pet toys, floor cushions, slippery carpets, power cords and similar items
- Adding rails to both sides of a stairway
- Adding handles near the toilet and bathtub for added support
- Keeping everyday items at eye level to avoid climbing onto chairs or stepstools to reach a jar of cookies
- Keeping the outdoor area clear of clutter and making sure the paths are even
- Using walkers or canes for additional support inside and outside the house
Many seniors tend to become less active and stay confined to their homes because of the fear of falling and hurting themselves. This can often lead to both physical and psychological health problems like weight gain and depression.
Seniors deserve to lead a happy, active life, so it is imperative to provide a safe living environment that poses a minimum risk of falls and injuries.
Falls. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/falls
Safety at Home. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/safety-topics/older-adult-falls
Step By Step: Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls in the Home. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.modernwellnessguide.com/lifestyle/step-by-step-preventing-slips-trips-and-falls-in-the-home