Falling accidents are very common among seniors and can cause serious and life-threatening injuries. Home fall prevention includes using adaptive technologies and better emergency lighting to lessen fall risk. This objective is especially important for the elderly and disabled, who may be of restricted movement and more susceptible to hazards.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
- Each year in the United States, one (1) of every (3) three persons over the age of 65 will experience a fall, half of which are repeat fallers.
- Every 20 minutes an older adult dies from a fall, and many more are injured.
- For people aged 65-84 years, falls are the second leading cause of injury-related death; for those aged 85 years or older, falls are the leading cause of injury-related death.
- More than one in four older adults falls every year; fewer than half tell their doctor.
- Three (3) million older adults are treated in emergency departments each year for fall injuries.
- More than 800,000 patients are hospitalized each year because of a fall, most often due to a head injury or hip fracture.
- Falls account for 87% of all fractures among people over the age of 65, and are the second leading cause of spinal cord injuries and brain injury symptoms.
- Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
- More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling and each year at least 300,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures.
- Half of all elderly adults (over the age of 65) hospitalized for hip fractures cannot return home or live independently after the fracture.
- Falling can also lead to soft tissue injuries, muscle breakdown, pressure sores and kidney damage.
Injuries from a fall can make it hard to get around, do everyday activities, or live on your own. Are you or someone you love at risk of falling?
FALL PREVENTION INTERVENTION
Because the natural aging process can affect vision, strength and balance, adults 65 and older are at elevated risk for falls. However, falls are not a natural part of aging and can be prevented.
For some, falls result in hurt feelings, skinned knees or broken bones. For others, falls can signal the beginning of lifestyle changes – or even lead to death. Understanding fall risk is the first step to keeping us and our loved ones safe.
QUICK FALL PREVENTION TIPS
Falls most often occur at home. Try these tips to make your home safer:
- Arrange furniture for easy navigation and move items to make often-used objects more accessible.
- Remove clutter, throw rugs, small furniture, electrical cords, pet gear and anything else that might cause someone to trip.
- Add grab bars inside and outside of the bathtub or shower and next to the toilet.
- Use nonslip mats in the bathtub or shower.
- Put railings on both sides of the stairs, and make sure stairs and hallways have good lighting.
- Make sure outdoor areas are well lit and walkways are smooth, and free of puddles and ice.
- Always wear proper, well-fitting footwear.
- Don’t rush to answer the phone. Many people fall trying to answer the phone. Carry either a cordless or cell phone or let an answering machine pick up.
- Is the light near the bed hard to reach? If so, move it closer.
FALL PREVENTION STRATEGIES
Growing older doesn’t have to mean a loss of independence. By planning ahead, you can identify simple steps that can make a big difference.
Talk to Your Doctor
Your doctor can help you understand your personal fall risk and what changes you can make to be safer. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review prescriptions and over-the-counter medications regularly, paying attention to tranquillizers, sedatives and antidepressants that can affect balance and make you dizzy or sleepy. Vitamin D deficiency can increase fall risk and a supplement may help.
Practice Balance Exercises at Home
Exercise regularly. Exercise makes you stronger and improves balance and coordination. Learn and practice tai chi. Physical activity can go a long way toward fall prevention.
A trained physical therapist can help improve balance, strength, and gait through exercise.
Walking aids can mean the difference between safely navigating your world or experiencing a fall. If you have a cane or a walker, use it at all times instead of holding onto walls and furniture. Wear shoes both inside and outside of the house.
Test vision on an annual basis; poor vision can increase the risk of falling. Get up slowly after you sit or lie down.
Keep rooms well lit. It’s safest to have uniform lighting in a room, so add lighting to dark areas. Make sure night lights or other sources of light are in place throughout areas you might frequent after dark, and that the highest recommended wattage bulbs are used in all light sources.
WHAT IF THE POWER GOES OUT AND ROOMS CAN’T BE WELL LIT?
Consider installing power outage light bulbs so your lights will still work when your power goes out! Safelumin power outage light bulbs automatically switch to battery when your power goes out. Since they operate like everyday LED light bulbs, they are easy to install in your lamps and fixtures. They even have a test button to assure you that the battery is charged and ready to go. You will have light on demand.
Depend on Safelumin bulbs to provide light until you can get your bearings and create a safe environment. Put them wherever they are needed. With an approximate battery life of about three (3) hours, stagger your Safelumin on and off times with a flip of the switch so you never need to be in the total dark.