Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death in seniors that are 65 years of age or older. Falls are also responsible for many non-fatal injuries that can seriously impair a seniors independence, mobility, and general safety. Since it is such a widespread issue, it is important for seniors and loved ones of seniors to take precautionary measures and do what they can to prevent falls. Identifying the obstacles that can lead to a fall is the first step toward fall prevention.
Fall Risks and Injuries
Seniors are far more likely to suffer injury from a fall due to their physical condition. Broken bones are a common outcome of seniors falls and recovery takes longer than broken bones in younger people. Seniors also typically have less mobility which makes it difficult to brace for a fall. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) one in four seniors experience a fall every year. Three million seniors receive treatment for fall-related injuries every year. Of that number, nearly 800,000 are admitted to the hospital and may be required to spend time at a long-term care facility.
Fall Prevention Around The Home
Identifying which aspects of a home can cause a fall may not be obvious to a younger person because what seems like nothing can be a huge hurdle for a senior. For example, any change in level in the home, even if it is simply one step or a slightly uneven surface, can cause a dangerous fall for a senior. Properly understanding fall prevention and fall risk comes down to looking at life from the perspective of a senior.
The bathroom is the most important room to evaluate for fall risk. Some of the things you should consider for bathroom safety include:
- Bathrooms are likely to be slippery due to humidity or water on the floor
- Stepping in and out of a shower or tub becomes more difficult at an older age
- A shower safety seat and shower bar are strong tools for fall prevention
- A handrail next to the toilet will aid in sitting down and standing up
- Keep curling irons, razors, hair dryers, and other electronic devices away from the sink
It is crucial that seniors be able to safely navigate and utilize the bathrooms in their homes.
Medical Alert Devices
It is also important for seniors to have immediate access to a medical alert device in case they experience a dangerous fall when they are alone. A cell phone is an obvious way to get in touch with emergency services, but many seniors do not carry their phones everywhere they go or may not be able to use the phone if the injury is severe. There are many devices designed specifically for seniors that are dependable and comfortable, and will make sure help comes even if they cannot make the call themselves.