Elderly Can Prevent Falls At Home by Following Basic Guidelines
As America’s elderly population continues to expand, so do the number of injuries related to falls. For many, falls can result in broken bones, spinal cord injuries, hip fractures, and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and require long periods of rehabilitation.
Millions of Americans Aged 65 and Over Fall Every Year
Most people do not realize just how prevalent falls are among older Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one in four adults aged 65 and older fall every year. People who fall are more prone to falling again. In fact, falls are the leading cause of injuries, and death from injury, among elderly Americans.
Approximately 3 million older adults receive treatment from an emergency department for fall injuries each year. Other reports and statistics from the CDC include:
- About 800,000 older adults are hospitalized for fall injuries each year.
- The average cost of treating a fall injury is more than $30,000.
- One in five falls causes serious injuries such as lacerations, hip fractures, or head traumas. For the elderly, these injuries can make it difficult to get around, live independently and may increase the risk of early death.
- A minimum of 300,000 older adults is hospitalized each year for hip fractures. More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling’typically by falling sideways.
- In 2015, the direct medical costs of falls to the Medicare program alone were higher than $31 billion.
The consequences of falls are not only physical or financial. The trauma of a severe fall may often cause a person to become afraid of engaging in everyday activities, and it may lead to withdrawal and social difficulties.
Although a significant problem for the elderly, there are many things people can do to prevent falls from occurring. Here are some basic steps to reduce the likelihood of slip and fall home injuries.
How the Elderly Can Prevent Falls: Tips from the CDC
With so many Americans at risk of injury from falls, taking preventative measures is essential. Falls can cause life-altering injuries and result in years of medical expenses. According to the CDC, the elderly can prevent falls by following some simple, but practical, tips. Some of these tips include:
- Exercising regularly. Although it sounds overly simple, regular exercise can help older adults improve leg strength and balance and reduce the chances of falling. Most adults lose muscle strength as they age. Without regular exercise, leg muscles can become weaker and lead to loss of balance. Walking, weight resistance, Yoga, and Tai Chi are among the many activities that can work well to improve leg strength.
- Reviewing medications. Having a licensed doctor or pharmacist review your list of medications can be very helpful. Health care professionals are more likely to identify medicines that may cause negative side effects such as dehydration, dizziness or drowsiness that can result in falls. When talking with the doctor or pharmacist, you should be sure to discuss both the prescription medications and the over-the-counter and ‘herbal’ medicines that are being used.
- Taking vitamins. According to the CDC research on falls among the elderly, Vitamin D deficiency is one of the risk factors. You should talk with your medical provider to see if you are getting enough Vitamin D each day.
- Wearing proper footwear. Many difficulties with balance can be prevented with the appropriate footwear. Shoes that are the wrong size or do not provide support could lead to foot pain, poor stability, and a higher likelihood of tripping or falling.
- Seeing an optometrist. Having an optometrist check vision at least once per year is a must for anyone over 40, and particularly crucial for those beyond that age. Most older adults need some vision correction. Poor eyesight could result in overlooking obstructions or tripping hazards or losing balance due to poor depth perception. Older adults who wear bifocals or multi-focal glasses are more likely to fall while walking or going up and down stairs than seniors who wear single-vision lens. Switching to glasses with single-vision lens is a simple step to reduce fall risks.
- Customizing your home. Customizing your home to fit your needs can help reduce the risk of falling. Examples include reducing tripping hazards, adding grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower and next to the toilet, adding railings on both sides of stairways, and improving lighting where needed.
These are just a few of the things you can do to prevent elderly falls at home. These tips will help reduce the likelihood of a personal injury that can have serious consequences. Injuries from a fall may force you, or a loved one, to undergo lengthy and expensive medical treatments and rehabilitation.
If you ever have a fall that you suspect was caused by the negligence of another, make sure to contact an experienced personal injury attorney to review the details of the accident. You shouldn’t be forced to pay for bills that are someone else’s responsibility, and you could be owed compensation.
Top 3 Safety Precautions Checklist for Elderly Fall Prevention
A number of different obstructions or poor architecture designs could create a dangerous environment for the elderly. Below is a checklist of the three things that the National Council on Aging recommends you consider when making changes to your home to prevent falls.
- Ensure there is proper lighting
- Minimize clutter by removing obstacles and cleaning up fallen food immediately
- Provide easy and quick access to commonly used items
Regardless of which area of your home you are working in, you should consider the level of lighting, clutter, and accessibility to protect your loved ones from falls. You should also have conversations with your loved ones about their experiences. Just because an area seems well lit or easy to navigate to you, that doesn’t mean that the elderly experience the same things.
The experienced personal injury and disability lawyers at Becker Law Office understand what is at stake when a loved one is hurt in a fall.
Our lawyers are compassionate and will help you handle insurance claims negotiations and court preparation so that you can focus on healing and spending time with your loved ones.