Fall Prevention at Home and in the Community
In the United States, falls are the leading cause of injuries in seniors aged 65 and older. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 3 million American seniors fall each year, and nearly 27 percent of those falls result in a serious injury and hospitalization. Falls are common, but they aren’t an inevitable part of aging. In order to minimize your chances of falling, the first step is to work with a loved one to create a fall-prevention strategy.
Why is it Important to Have a Fall-Prevention Strategy?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention published a report saying more than 800,000 of falls in the United States from seniors result in hospitalization for serious injuries, primarily hip fractures and head injuries. In fact, nearly 95% of hip fractures in seniors are caused by falling. Not only does falling physically injure the body, but it can also heighten fear and anxiety in seniors which in return increases their chances of falling again.
While falls are dangerous, they can be prevented. And having a fall-prevention strategy allows seniors to feel more confident moving about their home and community. Here are some things to think through when putting together a fall-prevention strategy.
Preventing Falls at Home
According to a report published by the World Health Organization, 44% of falls happen inside the home. Follow these tips to ensure your home is the safest environment it can be.
- Keep your home well-lit and free of clutter. Make sure all walkways in your home are clear of furniture and miscellaneous things. Also, make sure all rooms and hallways are well-lit and that lightbulbs are replaced regularly.
- Wear supportive shoes. Wearing properly fitted shoes can greatly reduce your chances of falling. Even when in the house, avoid slippers or other shoes without backs as these types of shoes can easily move around your foot, causing you to trip and fall.
- Invest in safety devices throughout your home. If you have stairs in your home, make sure the railings are sturdy and that outdoor walkways and porches have a slip-resistant mat. You can also install front-door showers or widen door frames to make things even more accessible.
Preventing Falls in the Community
When you’re traveling outside the home, it may feel like fall prevention is out of your control. But there are some things you can do to limit your chances of falling, no matter where you are.
- Take the ramp or elevator instead of the stairs. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires businesses to provide reasonable access and accommodation for all members of the public. This means that all public businesses must have alternative ways of entering and maneuvering the building regardless of size. Keep safe by opting for a ramp or elevator instead of taking the stairs.
- Travel with a companion. Invite a family member or friend when you’re venturing outside the home. Having a companion will give you comfort in knowing another person will be able to seek help in case of a fall. They can also be your second pair of eyes and alert you to high curbs or breaks in the sidewalk that you may have missed.
- Move slow and keep your eyes open. Anytime you’re moving around outside, the best thing to do is move slowly and watch where you are walking, even if you’re familiar with the area.
What to Do if You Fall
Even if you follow all the proper precautions, accidents happen. The most important thing is to be prepared in case you do fall.
- Stay calm. If you fall, the first step is to stay calm and don’t panic.
- Check-in with your body. Try to notice if there’s any pain or discomfort in your body. If you think you’re able to get up, first slowly move to a sitting position before standing. If you’re unable to move and you’re outside, make noise to attract nearby help. If you’re in your home and unable to get up, try your best to slide to the nearest phone and contact help right away.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Even if you feel fine after a fall, be sure to contact your doctor and let them know what happened. Some injuries may not be prevalent at first, so it’s important to get a medical examination to make sure you don’t have any minor breaks or bruising. Leaving injuries untreated can lead to more severe medical conditions.
How Visiting Angels Can Help
At Visiting Angels Manassas, we want to help seniors maintain their independence while staying safe in their homes and their communities. If you or a loved one needs assistance in putting together a fall prevention strategy, we are here to help. We currently serve Gainesville, Dumfries, Bristow, Haymarket and Woodbridge in Prince William County. If you’re interested in learning how Visiting Angels caregivers can be a part of your fall prevention strategy, stop by our Manassas office, or give us a call at 703-530-8811.