Preventing Falls

Many comedians make us laugh as they take a fake spill. My favorite was when Chevy Chase opened the television show Saturday Night Live with a fall, usually off a stage, ladder, or platform. I cannot believe that he wasn’t seriously hurt while performing these comedic spills. However, falling is no laughing matter for an older person.

Facts About Falls

The Center for Disease Control estimates that 2.8 million older people are treated in emergency rooms because of a fall, with over 800,000 being hospitalized. About 300,000 older people are treated for hip fractures annually, usually because of a fall.

While all age groups are vulnerable, most fall-related deaths occur among people age 65 and older. Falls are the number one cause of injury-related death for males age 80 and older and for females age 75 and older. One-fourth of the people who sustain a hip fracture die within one year and another 50% never return to their prior level of mobility or independence.

Preventing Falls

film loop of a man fallingFortunately, many falls and resulting injuries can be prevented. The Centers for Disease Control recommends four strategies to prevent older people from falling.

Get regular exercise to improve strength, balance, and coordination

Have a doctor or pharmacist review medications for such side effects as drowsiness or dizziness

Remove hazards in the home to reduce falls by doing the following:

installing handrails and a ramp to the front door

installing grab bars in the bathroom

wiping up slippery spills

improving lighting especially on stairs

removing throw rugs and other clutter that can cause tripping

wearing supportive shoes with soles that grip

staying inside when bad weather makes walking outdoors more difficult

Have your vision checked by an eye doctor. Wearing the wrong glasses or having a condition such as glaucoma or cataracts limits vision and can increase the chances of falling

Use this link to view Preventing Falls Among Older Adults from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

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