Falls are a serious threat that can’t be ignored. According to a study released by the CDC concerning fall prevention, it is estimated that each year one-third of seniors aged 65 years and older experience a fall. At the very least 25,000 of the elderly die as the result of a fall. This rate has been steadily increasing over the past decade in the United States.
Keeping in mind this critical issue, at the state level, Senate Concurrent Resolution 77 (D-Lowenthal) was passed in 2008. It declared the first week of Fall each year as Fall Prevention Awareness Week. This year, Fall Prevention Awareness Week is going to be held from September 23-29.
For more information concerning SCR 77, please visit Center for Disease Control
Falls are one of the leading causes of fatal and non-fatal injuries facing older adults. As a result they may suffer from a trauma related injury such as a hip fracture, foot sprain, or concussion. More often than not these incidents can require a visit to the ER followed by a period of prolonged bed rest.
However, their woes don’t end here as some seniors may have to depend on nursing and caregiving facilities as a result of the injuries sustained, thereby losing their independence. Some episodes of falls are so drastic they can cause emotional pain apart from the grave physical injury. It is therefore necessary to identify the reasons falls occur and take the steps to prevent them.
Let us take a look at some of the main reasons why seniors suffer from a fall which include, but are not limited to,
- Weakness in the muscles
- Side effects of taking prescribed medications
- Chronic health issues: Arthritis, impaired vision, heart stroke, dementia
- Wearing inappropriate footwear
- Risky behavior such as substance abuse
- Furniture placement in regularly trafficked areas of the home
- Hazards such as clutter, loose carpets, and spilled water on floor
- Lack of staircase railing or the use of grab bars for support in bathrooms
How can the elderly prevent falls in their home?
To avoid falls caused by the reasons mentioned above these preventive measures can be taken:
- Exercising regularly – Exercising on a regular basis is extremely important in preventing falls because it strengthens the leg muscles, improves balance, and makes the chances of falls less likely. The U.S. National Library of Medicine has recorded a number of exercises that can be carried out by the elderly by themselves or with the help of caregivers. They can also get many other benefits from exercising like getting rid of boredom and loneliness.
- Changing medicines – Seniors who are on medication need to be aware of the potential side-effects induced by certain medicines. They may vary from dizziness, drowsiness, blurred vision, etc. Since these can increase the chance of a fall, they need to review the medications and if needed, ask their physician or pharmacist to prescribe them an alternative medication that will not cause side-effects or limit the severity experienced.
- Going for eyesight checkups – Poor vision often causes the elderly to fall in their home and outside, so in getting around safely it is important to perform a vision test. An appointment with the optometrist is the initial step in determining if they are prescribed the proper eyewear. Persisting problems can be deferred to an ophthalmologist to detect the early signs of cataracts or other eye-related diseases in order to be treated as early as possible.
- Home remodelling – For the elderly, safety in their own homes is not a guarantee. It is therefore a must to identify all potential falling hazards and modify the home accordingly to ensure safety.
- Shifting furniture out of pathways
- Outfitting the bathing area with non-slip tiles
- Installing staircase railing and/or grab bars in showers
- Upgrading to a walk-in bathtub,
- Placing bright lights in poorly lit areas
These are all a few simple modifications that can carried out to greatly reduce the risk of an in-home fall.
Join George Bentley of Bentley Baths in a seminar to gain valuable insight on safety issues facing seniors in their homes. He’ll be hosting a casual meet and greet on September 28th followed by a seminar on September 29th at Sun City Carolina Lakes in Fort Mill, SC. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn how you can make your home safer for your loved ones or yourself and continue to live a vibrant, active life.
For more information concerning fall prevention or to RSVP for the event,
please visit Bentley Baths.