Fall Prevention for Seniors
September has rolled around again, and it is time to renew our attention to fall prevention. September 22 is National Falls Prevention Awareness Day and September 22 – 25 is National Falls Prevention Awareness Week. Falls are the second leading cause of death among accidental or unintentional deaths according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Awareness of fall prevention for seniors could save lives and eliminate painful injuries that occur each year.
No one plans to fall; it just happens. Falls are serious, particularly for frail, elderly persons, but a fall can mean a serious injury at any age. Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls result in “more than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths.”
The Risk of Falling
Falls are common among seniors. There are health conditions which increase the risk of falling. Weak legs and arms, imbalance when standing or walking, dizziness upon changing position, and vision and hearing impairments all add up to a fall risk for a senior. That’s why during a doctor’s visit, your nurse or doctor will usually ask a senior patient,”
Have You Fallen Lately
Have you fallen lately? When? How?” Falling is an important indicator of the patient’s health now and in the future. A person who is at a high risk of falling is less or completely incapable of living independently at home. A high risk of falling usually means that the senior needs to live in an assisted living facility, a nursing home, or have home health care aides at home. Certainly, the health care provider should authorize treatment that could help the patient improve his physical condition, such as rehabilitation therapy and physical and occupational therapy services.
Preventing Fall Hazards
Prevention is the other piece of the risk puzzle. Prevention follows awareness of fall hazards in the person’s environment. An occupational therapist is an expert at looking around a senior’s home and making recommendations about changes that would make activities of daily living easier and safer for the patient. The bathroom is where most falls happen because of the slippery and hard surfaces there. Stairs are another place where falls often happen. Kitchens may present wet floors, sharp and hot objects, and items out of reach to a senior who has a fall risk. Something that a senior sees every day, like an electric cord stretched across the floor, can cause a sudden trip and a fall. Being aware of hazards is the first step to preventing falls.
Small changes in the environment can prevent serious injuries. Having grab bars around the tub, having ramps instead of steps, and improving household storage are all changes of a home or building which makes access to daily activities easier for a senior. Improving lighting around the house and outdoors can make a difference for the senior. Bathroom safety is crucial to eliminating fall-risk. Clearing out clutter on the floors is another simple and effective way to prevent falls.
Ramps and bathroom safety equipment are available at Caregiver-aid.com. Just click on the icons below to see what we’ve got.
Attitude and Behaviors
Seniors who have fallen often fear falling again. They become less independent, and limit their exercise, activities, and interests out of fear. That’s why changing that fear into confidence with awareness and education is important. So this September, increase your abilities to prevent falling.
The website of the National Council on Aging, the organization that leads the Falls Free Initiative nationally, has several online presentations that are helpful.
Falls Free CheckUp
The coronavirus pandemic has changed a lot of things. One thing that’s still the same? Falling is NOT a normal part of aging. There are steps you can take to reduce your risk. Go to the NCOA website to answer these 12 questions to asses your fall risk..
Also, at the same NCOA website, you can read the success stories of seniors across the nation who have learned to use exercise, awareness, and determination to protect themselves from falls.
Stay Falls-Free this September!