12 Ways to Protect Seniors from Slip and Fall Injuries
Slip and fall injuries can be devastating for senior citizens. A young person can be seriously injured from a fall. For older people, the risk is even higher. During the winter season, there is often the added concern of weather conditions creating hazardous situations.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately one in four Americans over age 65 fall each year. An older adult visits an emergency room for a fall injury every 11 seconds. One loses their life from a fall every 19 minutes.
Emergency rooms treat over 2.8 million injuries that resulted from a fall annually. It is the most common cause of nonfatal trauma among older adults. Falls lead to over 800,000 hospitalizations and 27,000 deaths each year.
While it isn’t just a problem for the elderly, it is a concern for older adults because one fall can lead to serious medical problems. When a senior citizen falls, their hospital stays are twice as long on average compared to people of the same age that are admitted for any other reason.
Another concerning statistic is the number of people who experience multiple falls. Approximately two-thirds of people who fall will fall again within the following six months. Over half of all fall-related fatalities are people age 75 and older. And one-fourth of seniors who suffer a fractured hip from a fall will die within six months of their injury.
The dangers of a fall are scary and only get scarier as we grow older. We cannot live in fear our entire lives, but we can take steps to protect ourselves and our loved ones.
How to Prevent Fall Injuries
Prevention is key when it comes to fall injuries. Older people may begin to experience changes in their balance, stamina, and mobility. These should be considered when coming up with ways to prevent fall injuries. For some, a few minor changes may be needed. For others, the measures may need to be more significant. What can you do to prevent yourself or a loved one from falling?
- Exercise and Stay Active – Keeping your body strong and limber is essential to good health. Regular exercise and physical activity can go a long way in preventing a fall. Try mild weight-bearing exercises to help strengthen muscles and slow bone loss. Your doctor can provide advice when building a safe exercise routine.
- Have Regular Hearing and Eye Tests – Our eyes and ears help us navigate the world. Even a minor change can lead to a fall. Have regular hearing and eye tests done. Also, be careful if you receive a new prescription for contacts or eyeglasses. Make sure they fit comfortably and won’t cause any visual problems that could result in a fall.
- Know the Side Effects of Your Medications – Some medications could cause an issue with balance or make the patient feel dizzy. Make sure you know all possible side effects and watch for signs that they are happening.
- Make Sure You Get Enough Sleep – Sleep is necessary for good health and wellbeing. If you are tired, you are more likely to trip. Make sure you get enough rest each night. Talk to your doctor if you experience sleep problems like insomnia.
- Limit Alcohol Intake – Some seniors enjoy a glass of wine or beer, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, excessive alcohol consumption will increase your risk of falling. Enjoy alcohol in safe quantities.
- Don’t Stand Up Too Fast – Standing up too fast can cause blood pressure to drop, making you feel off-balance or wobbly. Maintain healthy blood pressure and stand up slowly.
- Use Assistive Devices – Some seniors may need help to walk. This can mean the use of an assistive device like a walker or cane. Always use your prescribed device when moving. If you think you may need a device, speak to an occupational or physical therapist. They can evaluate ability and determine if this is the best option for you or your loved one.
- Check for Adequate Lighting – Make sure your living space has adequate lighting to navigate. When adding floor or table lamps, make sure all cords are placed behind furniture where they won’t become a tripping hazard.
- Make Sure Railings Are Secure – Install railings on all stairs. If railings are already in place, check to make sure that they are still secure. Older railings could come loose and cause injury during a fall.
- Install Grab Bars in Bathrooms – Grab bars can be very helpful in the bathroom. These should be installed near the toilet and in the bathtub – two places that your loved one is more likely to need them.
- Remove Rugs and Tripping Hazards – Rugs, ottomans, and other low-sitting objects can be tripping hazards for seniors. These should be removed from the home. Make sure all paths and hallways are clear of objects and debris.
- Wear Non-Skid Shoes with Low Heels – The right footwear can help us stay upright. The best type of shoes will have non-skid rubber soles with low heels that are comfortable and in the correct size. If you aren’t sure what to buy, talk to a physical or occupational therapist for shoe recommendations.
Taking these steps now could save your life or the life of a loved one later. Check back for more tips and information on staying healthy and active during your golden years.