September 22nd may be the first day of fall, but it also marks the ten year anniversary of National Falls Prevention Awareness Day and its mission to keep our older loved ones (65+) independent longer.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in conjunction with the National Council on Aging (NCOA) urge Americans to help manage fall risks by learning why and how they happen. While it may not seem to affect your life directly, approximately three million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries, estimating more than $50 billion dollars in medical costs.
That’s a lot of people and a lot of cash at the expense of a preventable accident.
What Do I Need to Know About Falls?
The first thing to know about falls is how serious they can be. Falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), and are responsible for at least 800,000 hospitalizations each year. From 2007 to 2016, fall death rates in the U.S. increased 30% for older adults.
It is also vital to know falls can be prevented. With a few simple changes, you and your loved ones of any age can significantly reduce the chance of sustaining a personal injury from a slip and fall accident. Below are 7 actionable items to help decrease the chance of sustaining a serious injury from a fall:
Talk to a doctor
Schedule a visit with you and your loved one’s doctor to evaluate the risk of a fall. Be sure to ask about medications that may induce dizziness or drowsiness as they could be a contributing factor to a tumble.
Visit the optometrist
Ensure you and your loved ones have had their yearly eye exam! Update eyeglasses as necessary and consider getting different pairs of glasses for different activities; sometimes bifocal lenses can discredit depth-perception.
Revisit home decor
Creating a great ambiance in your home is important to feeling comfortable, but not at the risk of your loved one’s safety. Move easily-tripped-over items, such footrests and throw rugs, to low foot traffic areas and consider adding extra lights or brighter bulbs for additional visibility of hazards in the evening
Work on balance
The CDC recommends doing exercises that strengthen leg muscles and improve balance, such as Tai Chi. Regular yoga practices and walks are also great options.
Install preventative handrails and guardrails
Grab bars inside and outside bathtubs, showers, and next to toilets can help increase loved one’s stability, especially if title or bathroom floors become wet. Adding two guardrails to a staircase is also a great idea to give maximum security to your loved ones and guests.
Wear tighter clothes
Loose fitting and long clothing, such as long nightgowns, can easily cause a trip. Consider rubber-soled slippers or socks with “grips” to replace slippery socks as well!
Non-slip the grip
Showers and long, sleek hallways pose a high risk for a serious slip and fall accident. Mitigate the chances of injury by adding non-slip rugs and bathtub grips.
Employing these seven tips will reduce the chance of a slip and fall not only for your elderly loved ones, but also for any family member or guest in your home. While wet floors, bad lighting, and inclimate weather can all lead to slip and fall accidents on another’s property, you have the power to reduce the risk of a serious fall in your home. This upcoming fall, don’t let a fall happen. To learn more about fall prevention and events in your community you can read more here!