Fall prevention for seniors is a hot topic. That’s because thirty years ago, most emergency department (ED ) cases were related to accidents and violence. But things have changed. Trauma surgeons say that most cases today center around falls in the elderly. In fact, according to The National Trauma Data Bank, falls cause 61 percent of deaths in adults aged 65 and older. They are the most common cause of death in older adults.
“Most older adults want to stay at home as long as possible. They’re afraid that if they admit to having fallen, their independence will be taken away. And so they deny falling,” says Dr. Lauren Southerland, an Ohio State University emergency physician who specializes in geriatric care.
Ten tips to make fall prevention in seniors easy
Keep rooms free of obstacles
- Arrange furniture to give you plenty of room to walk freely.
- Remove clutter and electrical or phone cords that you could trip over.
- Secure carpets to the floor and stairs. Remove throw rugs.
- Avoid wet floors and clean up spills right away.
- Put non-slip strips on floors and steps. Put non-slip strips or a rubber mat on the floor of your bathtub or shower, as well.
- Add a contrasting color strip to the bottom step of a staircase.
Pack shelves for convenience
- Store often-used items (food boxes, cans, dishes, clothing, and other everyday items) within easy reach so that you don’t stand on a stool to get them.
- Poor lighting can increase your risk of falls. Make sure you have enough lighting in each room, at entrances, and on outdoor walkways.
- Install a handrail along a stairway and a grab bar near the bathtub and toilet.
- The benefits of seniors exercising regularly far outweigh the risks. If you don’t use it, you lose it. Regular exercise (with proper supervision) provides many health benefits. For starters, a person’s immune function is improved because a healthy, strong body fights off infection more easily. Frequent physical activity lowers the risk of diabetes, obesity, colon cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure. It also protects against the loss of bone mass (reducing the risk of osteoporosis), boosts a person’s metabolism and promotes the efficient elimination of waste.
Falls can lead to physical suffering such as hip fractures. But falls also have serious negative psychological effects. When a person loses his independence because of a fall, he’s very likely to also lose his self-esteem. The physical and mental deterioration come together and lead to the person’s decline.