Most Fatal Falls Occur at Home

By Bill Bambrick, Lexington Manor –

fatal falls“I have fallen and cannot get up!” We all have heard this line over the years with a slight chuckle based on its origin back in the 80’s and 90’s. Life Alert was the commercial that made us all aware of being safe at home. Is this the best solution or does it give us a false sense of security? Any tools that can enhance your quality of life and give peace of mind are always a plus. If you fall and are knocked unconscious what process is in place? Is someone calling you daily just to check in?

Falling is the leading cause of unintentional injury at home among Americans 65 and older. Older people sustain such injuries by stumbling on stairs; slipping in bathtubs; falling off ladders and step stools; and tripping over garden hoses, dog leashes, and household appliance cords.

According to a 2003 CPSC study titled, “Special Report: Emergency Room Injuries, Adults 65 and Older,” consumers 65 and over are increasingly at risk from product-related injuries that occur in or around their homes, especially injuries caused by falling.

From 1991 to 2002, the number of people 75 and older who were treated in a U.S. hospital emergency room for product-related injuries increased an astonishing 73 percent. During the same period, the number of Americans in that age group grew by only 27 percent.

Each week, more than 30,000 Americans over the age of 65 are seriously injured by falling, and nearly 250 die from their injuries, according to the NSC. Of those who do survive falling, 20-30 percent experience debilitating injuries that affect them the rest of their lives. Falling is also the leading cause of injury, and the leading cause of injury-related death, for both men and women 75 and older.

According to the NSC, 54 percent of all falling-related deaths of older people are caused by seniors falling down at home, and 20 percent of those fatal falls occur in residential institutions.

The most common serious injury from falling is a hip fracture. More than 24 percent of all people suffering a hip fracture die within a year of falling, and another 50 percent never return to their prior level of mobility and independence.

Prevention is the key to reduce your risk of falling. Here are some tips:

  • Have a regular exercise program, start one. Lack of exercise leads to weakness, and that increases your chances of falling.
  • Remove items you might trip over (such as papers, books, clothes, and shoes) from stairs and places where you walk.
  • Remove small throw rugs or use double-sided tape to keep the rugs from slipping.
  • Have grab bars installed next to your toilet, and install grab bars in your tub or shower.
  • Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors.
  • Improve the lighting in your home. Make sure all stairways have handrails and sufficient lighting.
  • If you are a senior or have a disability, it’s best to wear shoes that give good support and have thin non-slip soles. You might also consider avoiding lightweight slippers (especially backless styles) or athletic shoes with deep treads, which can reduce your feeling of control.
  • Medications both prescription and over-the-counter have side-effects that can increase your fall risk. Consult with your physician or pharmacist on all medications to ensure you minimize risk.
  • Vision problems can also increase your risk; cataracts, glaucoma

Bill Bambrick has over 20 years in health care with a focus on seniors needs. Bill can be reached by email: wm.bambrick@gmail.com, or at Lexington Manor Assisted Living here in Port Charlotte.

Copyright ©2012 Bill Bambrick Port Charlotte, Florida

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