Falls: A Risk that can be reduced

Falling is a significant risk for everyone, but the impact is especially dangerous for the elderly.

Falls happen often: one-third of those over age 65 fall during a year.

  • Falls: A Risk that can be reducedFalls have drastic consequences:
    • Falls are the leading cause of death due to injury among those 65+.
    • There were 2.3 million reported falls in 2010; almost 30% of victims had to be hospitalized.
    • Twenty to thirty percent of people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries. These injuries make it difficult to get around and stay independent and increase the risk of early death.
    • More than 20,000 older adults died from unintentional fall injuries in 2009.
    • Most fractures among the elderly are caused by falls: spine, hip, forearm, leg and more.
    • People age 75 and older who fall are four to five times more likely than those age 65 – 74 to be admitted to long term care for a year or longer.

There’s much more, but the point is clear. Falls are a frequent and significant risk.

The good news is that the things that cause falls are well-known and somewhat easily addressed

Home Safety

Fall prevention starts with the tried and true: make sure the home environment is as safe as possible. More than three quarters of falls happen in the house or outside near the house

  1. Remove things you can trip over or slip on: papers, shoes, extension cords, small throw rugsb.
  2. Assure good lighting, especially on stairs
  3. Keep items used often in easy reach: lower shelves so step stools aren’t needed; cordless phones so you don’t have to rush to catch the call.
  4. Pay particular attention to bath safety add grab bars near the toilet and the bath; add non-slip mats to the bath. Don’t rely on the towel bar to steady you.
  5. Wear good shoes in the house and outside.
  6. Use medical equipment (walkers, canes, etc.) when appropriate and make sure you use them as instructed
  7. Be careful around pets. As much as we love them, you can trip over them or they can upset your balance when they eagerly jump on you.

Be physically fit

Muscles are important to your balance as well as the strength to get around. There are simple exercises that can maintain strength and improve balance. Discuss this with your doctor who may recommend physical therapy.

Pay attention to the impact of medications

Some medications make you dizzy or sleepy, both of which increase your risk of falling. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about these side effects and what you can do to minimize falls risks as you stick to your medications.

Take your time

Stand up slowly and make sure you are steady before starting to walk. Take your time in walking. When you first wake up, sit on the edge of the bed and make sure you aren’t dizzy when you get out of bed.

Check your vision

Both visual acuity (how well you see) and depth perception are improved by having necessary glasses or contact lenses, and wearing them.

Interim HealthCare has many resources and services to help you reduce your fall risk or the risks facing a loved one. Our Personal Care Services help you with activities involved in daily living so you or a loved one don’t have to be at risk fixing meals, cleaning or running errands or can help with safe bathing and dressing. Home Health services can help with managing your medications and with physical therapy to improve strength and balance. In all cases, we’re pleased to provide an assessment of how we might help you or a loved one.

Falls are a significant – but avoidable – risk to you or a loved one staying safely and independently at home

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