Preventing Falls In The Home

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), persons over the age of 65 have
the highest mortality rate from injuries. In fact, among older adults, injuries cause
more deaths than either pneumonia or diabetes. In terms of deadly injuries,
surprising as it may seem, falls account for about half of all deaths due to injury
by the elderly.
Several epidemiological studies, as pointed out by the NSC, have examined in
detail falls among the elderly with some astounding outcome figures, such as:
• Among 65 year-old women, nearly one-third will fall. After age 85, over half of
women will suffer a fall.
• With men, the number who fall increases from 13 percent in the 65 to 69 age
range to 31 percent for those 80 to 84 years of age. Ironically, for those over age
85, there is actually a slight decrease.
• Among the elderly living at home one-third to one-half tend to fall. And,
interestingly, those who are more aged, female, single, divorced or widowed are
more prone to falling.

Older people are likely to fall for a number of different reasons.

One of the most prevalent causes is a less-than-truly-safe living environment. Measures that can
be taken to enhance safety in the home, as recommended by the National
Center for Injury Prevention and Control, for an elderly person include:
• Improve outside lighting, so when an older person living in the home goes out
he or she can clearly see where they are walking.
• Remove things which could cause you or an older person to easily trip (as
examples, papers, books, clothes and shoes). Especially clear such items from
stairs and places where you walk.
• Get rid of small throw rugs or use double-sided tape to keep the rugs from
slipping.
• Keep items you often use in cabinets you can reach easily without the use of a
step stool.
• Put non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors.
• Improve lighting inside the home. As you get older, you need brighter lights to
see well; therefore, it is a good idea to increase bulb wattage on lamps and other
areas of lighting to enhance brightness of rooms.
• Have handrails and lights installed on all staircases. Coming up and down
stairs is one of the main areas in the home for falls.
• Wear shoes that give good support and have thin non-slip soles. Also avoid
wearing slippers and athletic shoes with deep treads.
• Keep phone cords and electrical cords out of the way of any areas where you
walk. Falling over cords in the home is quite common.
Two Other Recommended Measures
• Have your doctor or pharmacist review all of your medications (including overthe-
counter, non-prescription ones), to ensure that any medicines you are taking
do not increase your chances of falling. As you get older, the way some
medicines work in your body can change. Some medicines or combinations of
medicines can make you drowsy or light-headed.
• Have your vision checked by an eye doctor. You may need new glasses or
have a condition such as glaucoma or cataracts that limit your vision. Obviously,
poor vision increases your chance of falling. Whatever the cost for an eye
examination and a new pair of glasses, the investment will be worth it. It sure
beats increasing the risk of a fall, which can mean serious injury or even death

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