- Preventing falls among the elderly is a top priority for seniors and family caregivers alike.
As people age, their bodies are more prone to degeneration and falling. Bones become more brittle and have a higher chance of breaking. And, with more and more people over the age of 65 deciding to live independently, there is more of a chance that these people will be falling alone.
Let’s look at some statistics:
• More than 33% of people aged 65 and older are involved in accidents and falls in the home each year – Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
• The chances of surviving a fall are six times greater if you are found within one hour - Yale University School of Medicine
• The ability to get immediate help boosts the odds that a senior will continue to live independently. - New England Journal of Medicine
• Unintentional falls are a threat to the lives, independence and health of seniors. -- CDC - Preventing Falls Among Older Adults
• When an elderly person falls, their hospital stays are almost twice longer than those of elderly patients who are admitted for any other reason.
• Among people ages 65 to 69, one out of every 200 falls results in a hip fracture. That number increases to one out of every 10 for those aged 85 and older.
• In people over the age of 65, falling is the leading cause of injury death, over 3 times more than motor vehicle collisions - CDC
• In 2010, falling was the leading cause of non-fatal injuries for people between the ages of 25 and 65+ - CDC
• Approximately 40% of people admitted to a nursing home had a fall in the 30 days prior to admission.
Be sure to read our free elderly fall prevention guide "50+ Ways To Prevent Falls" but you can also take these immediate steps to improve the safety of someone you love:
• Make an appointment with your doctor
o Review medications - many medications interact and can lead to unintentional falls. Your doctor or pharmacist can review.
o Discuss fall history - if you've fallen, nearly fallen, or stumbled discuss it with your doctor. Knowing your fall history is important.
o Review health conditions – many falls are related to other conditions including the eyes, ears, dizziness, gait and other contributing reasons to a fall.
• Keep moving
o Balance - poor balance is a major contributor to falls, and prevents you from recovering from a stumble that might not otherwise become a fall.
o Endurance - work on exercises that improve your endurance for breathing, and ability to recover from a fall or prevent shortness of breath.
o Strength - light workouts with weights can make you stronger and help prevent falls with better recovery skills
o Stretching - flexibility is key to maintaining balance and reducing stiffness. The more flexible you are, the less likely you are to fall.
• Sensible shoes
o your shoes should fit correctly, with strong heels and comfortable grips. Many elderly falls are due to improper footwear that causes missteps and balance issues.
• Remove home hazards
o Scatter rugs, cords, stacks of stuff. Clean up your area so that there are fewer fall triggers in the home.
o Clear pathways – move furniture, move stuff
o Non slip mats in bathroom and other hot spot areas or slick surfaces to prevent falls, especially when wet
o Nightlights - illuminate rooms and hallways with soft nightlights to make it easier to see and prevent tripping and falling
o Flashlights - keep them handy for power outages or other reasons to shine some light on an area
o Snap-light - an easy to install night light that fits in your existing wall swithces and power outlests. Easy to install, great for preventing falls by providing more light
• Assistive Devices
o Handrails on both sides of stairs - be able to grab on tight if you trip and fall on the stairs
o Non slip treads - so important in the bathroom where most falls among elderly occur
o Grab bars shower or tub - another thing to hold on to. Replace towel racks with grab bars for increased safety.
o Plastic seat for shower or tub with handheld shower nozzle - the more you can do to prevent falls in the shower/tub area, the better!
We hope you enjoy our fall prevention guide and will be able to use these tips to prevent falls among the elderly family memebers you love.