Step up your safety routine this fall
September 23, 2019 is Falls Prevention Awareness Day. It’s an annual opportunity for seniors, caregivers, educators, and health experts to join the National Council on Aging (NCOA) in the ambition to share information and tips that aim to help make seniors safer in their homes. NCOA reports that falls are the leading cause of injury, both fatal and non-fatal, among seniors. Falls lead to tremendous medical costs, plus they stand to limit a senior’s independence and quality of life.
NCOA points out that “falling is not an inevitable result of aging.” There are many ways that seniors can bolster their health and secure their environment to reduce instances of falling. Here’s what you need to know to embrace Fall Prevention Awareness Day, and to enjoy a healthier and safer environment in which to age.
Fast facts about falls:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- More than 27,000 older adults die annually because of falls; that means 74 deaths each day. Many of these are preventable.
- Every year, 3 million older adults require emergency treatment because they fall.
- More than one in four older adults fall each year, but less than half of them share that with their doctor.
- One of five falls results in serious injury (head injury, broken bone, etc.)
- Enduring one fall doubles the chance that a senior will fall again.
- Over 95 percent of hip fractures are caused by falls.
- Most traumatic brain injuries are caused by falls.
- 2015 saw medical costs related to falls totaling more than $50 billion.
Securing your home
Ensuring that your home is safe and secure is worth the effort and expense. The CDC has a library of materials that offer advice and instruction for securing your home. These are some highlights:
- Move objects that are obstructive - bathmats and throw rugs can be especially dangerous, so be mindful.
- Address slippery, worrisome or broken items in your home.
- Install proper lighting, especially near staircases.
- Install handrails - especially near all stairs.
- Install grab bars in the bathrooms - particularly near the bathtub and the toilet.
Double check your health
This checklist incorporates the CDCs recommendations for seniors about how basic wellness can help keep you safer.
- Make sure that you’ve had your eyes checked and that you have the correct prescription for your eyeglasses.
- Engage in regular exercises that promote strength and balance.
- Talk with your pharmacist about any medications that may cause dizziness, and get your doctor’s advice for how to best handle that.
- Ask your doctor if vitamin D supplements might prove helpful for you.
- Make fall risks a regular concern that you discuss with your doctor. If you notice that you’re shaky or you find yourself tripping or stumbling more than usual, make sure to mention it to your doctor.
- Get rid of floppy slippers, billowy pants or any items that don’t fit securely and therefore may cause slipping or tripping.
Once a fall has happened, it can be hard to reverse the damage. But there’s plenty you can do to prevent an accident from happening in the first place. National Fall Prevention Awareness Day gives you an excuse to get serious about your safety. Get your family and friends in on your efforts. Have them help you search your home from top to bottom for possible issues and obstacles. Your health and safety are worth it!