According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 1 out of 4 older people falls each year, but fewer than half tell their doctor. Falls are serious – one in five falls causes a broken bone or head injury. 95% of all hip fractures are caused by falling, usually sideways, and more than 300,000 older people are hospitalized with hip fractures each year. Fall death rates have increased steadily over the past decade, and by 2030 the CDC projects there will be 7 fall deaths per hour in the United States.
The good news is that many falls can be prevented. Fall prevention programs can start by looking around your or your loved one’s home. The most important step you can take to prevent falls is to:
- Maintain as much strength and coordination as possible.
- Follow your doctor’s instructions on taking your medications.
- Eat properly and exercise.
The next step is to look around your home for hazards that could lead to a fall, and correct them. Here are some suggestions for fall prevention exercises, patient fall prevention, and for creating a safer home environment:
- Grab bars to get into and out of the tub
- Use a bath chair or stool in the shower
- Don’t use throw rugs or wax on the bathroom floor
- Use a raised toilet seat with arm rails
- Buy soap on a rope, or put a bar of soap in a nylon stocking with one end tied to a towel bar
- Never get up in the dark – make sure the room is well lit
- Keep light switch close to bed – Use a Fall Prevention Light-Touch Dimmer
- Avoid slippery socks or slippers
- Consider using a Bed Transfer Handle or Bed Security Rail
- Hide all loose extension cords
- Consider using a Medical Alarm / PERS System
- Use carpets and rugs with skid-proof backing or tacked to the floor
- Use a long-handled sponge/mop to wipe up spills, rather than trying to bend over to clean the floor
- Keep your floors smooth but not slippery
- Store your often-used supplies in easy-to-reach cabinets
- Avoid hard-to-reach wall phones; consider a cordless phone that can be carried from room to room, or a counter model
Around the House
- To be safer, consider using a Medical Alarm
- Stairwells should be well lit; consider nightlights for hallways and bathrooms
- Wear low-heeled, comfortable shoes with nonskid soles;
- Don’t walk around in socks, slippers, or stockings on bare floors
- Keep rooms and hallways free of clutter
- Make sure carpets, including those on stairs, have skid-proof backing or are tacked to the floor
Use common sense. If bending throws off your balance, try to avoid picking things up. If you are unsteady outdoors, use a cane to negotiate sidewalk cracks and curbs. If you fall but do not injure yourself, don’t assume you must restrict your activities. Too little activity can cause you to lose strength and coordination, putting you at greater risk for another fall. Instead, talk to your doctor about these and other steps you can take to reduce your risk of a more serious fall.
How Assisting Hands serving Columbus, OH can help: Our home care professionals can assist with light housekeeping, laundry, and other tasks that involve bending and carrying, especially up and down stairs. They can make sure clutter is cleared away and cords are secured away from foot traffic areas. If there are errands to be run, our caregivers can do them or accompany you or your loved one to give you an extra hand getting from the parking lot to the store, navigating the aisles, and waiting in line. Social gatherings are important, too, and someone can take you to church or temple, your bridge or golf game, or your book group. Give us a call today if you are looking for some extra reassurance from a pair of steady hands.
Source: Assisting Hands Home Care in association with IlluminAge © IlluminAge