Preventing falls among elderly

by | July 31, 2006 12:00 am

For seniors, falls in and around the home have serious consequences. Did you realize that…

 Falls are one of the most serious health risks among seniors over the age of 65, affecting more people than stroke and heart attacks combined.

 Falls are the leading cause of death due to injury in those people 65 and over.

 95% of hip fractures are caused by falls. 40% of those hospitalized for hip fracture do not return to independent living and 20% will die within a year.

 More than half (55%) of all falls by seniors taking place in the home. An additional 23% occur outside but near the house. Lifeline can intervene in close to 80% of all falls.

 Most falls go unreported, but it is expected that 35-40% of people over the age of 65% fall each year.

 Those who fall are 2-3 times more likely to fall again.

 Many chronic medical conditions place millions more seniors at risk. Cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, diminished

hearing and eyesight, and Parkinsons all leave seniors vulnerable to helplessness at home.

There is some positive news…

 Some falls are preventable. Falls caused by environmental factors (like fall hazards in the home) and from side-affects of medication can be foreseen and avoided.

 Preventing falls and the resulting injuries can promote independence, by reducing or delaying the need to move out of the home.

 Getting help quickly after a fall reduces risk of hospitalization by 26% and death by over 80%

So what can you do to help prevent falls in the first place?

Ways to Prevent Falls

 Have a lamp or light switch that you can easily reach without getting out of bed.

 Use night-lights in the bedroom, bathroom and hallways.Keep a flashlight handy.

 Have light switches at both ends of stairs and halls. Install hand-rails on both sides of stairs.

 Turn on the lights when you go into the house at night.

 Add grab bars in shower, tub and toilet areas.

 Use bath mats with suction cups.

 Use nonslip adhesive strips or a mat in shower or tub.

 Consider sitting on a bench or stool in the shower.

 Consider using an elevated toilet seat.

 Wear nonslip, lowheeled shoes or slippers that fit snugly. Don’t walk around in stocking feet.

 Remove all extraneous clutter in your house.

 Keep telephone and electrical cords out of pathways.

 Tack rugs and glue vinyl flooring so they lie flat. Remove or replace rugs or runners that tend to slip, or attach nonslip backing.

 Ensure that carpets are firmly attached to the stairs.

 Use helping devices, such as canes, when necessary.

 Purchase a step stool with high and sturdy handrails. Repair or discard wobbly step stools. Do not stand on a chair to

reach things. Store frequently used objects where you can reach them easily.

 Paint the edges of outdoor steps and any steps that are especially narrow or are higher or lower than the rest.

 Paint outside stairs with a mixture of sand and paint for better traction. Keep outdoor walkways clear and well lit.

 Keep snow and ice off entrances and sidewalks.

 Review medications with your doctor or pharmacist. Some drugs, including over-the-counter drugs, can make you drowsy, dizzy and unsteady.

 Watch your alcohol intake. More than two drinks per day can cause unsteadiness.

 Have your hearing and eyesight tested. Inner ear problems can affect balance. Vision problems make it difficult to see potential hazards.

 Exercise regularly to improve muscle flexibility and strength. If you feel dizzy or light-headed, sit down or stay seated until your head clears. Stand up slowly to avoid unsteadiness.

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