Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death for adults age 65 and older, according to Injury Facts 2015, the statistical report on unintentional injuries created by the National Safety Council. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention:
- One in three older adults fall each year.
- About 2.5 million nonfatal falls were treated in emergency departments in 2013.
- Of those, 734,000 people were admitted to the hospital.
- That year, 25,500 older adults died from unintentional falls More than 250,000 hip fractures are reported every year, and 95% of those are from falls.
The good news. Falls are preventable and better news for those of us getting older, aging, itself, does not cause falls. Many of the underlying causes of older adult falls have to do with muscle weakness, dizziness caused from some medications, improper footwear, impaired vision, slick floors, poor lighting, loose rugs, clutter and uneven surfaces. All of these conditions can be improved.
We all know that falls can happen anywhere, but they are more likely to occur in your home. Here are some tips from the National Safety Council that you can do to help protect your loved one from falling when at home:
- Remove clutter, small furniture, pet gear, electrical cords, throw rugs and anything else that might cause someone to trip.
- Remove any furniture they are not using to increase space.
- Check the carpets. Consider removing all throw rugs to avoid trips and slips.
- Keep outdoor areas well lit and walkways smooth. In the winter make sure snow and ice are removed.
- Use non-slip adhesive strips on stairs.
- Use non-skid mats or appliques in the bath and shower.
- Install grab bars in the tub, shower and near the toilet.
- Install railings on both sides of stairs. Look at the lighting in each room and make sure it is adequate.
- Place nightlights in the kitchen, bath and hallways.
- Make often-used items more accessible, like food, clothing, etc., so an older person won’t be tempted to use a stool or ladder to get to them.
- If necessary, provide personal walking devices, such as a cane or walker, to aid in stability.