Falls is the most common cause of injury (fatal and non-fatal) among seniors. One in every three seniors over 65 years old fall. Hopefully, none of your family members is included in this statistics. Many do not even talk about it. CDC reports in 2013, 2.5 million nonfatal falls among older adults were treated in emergency departments and more than 734,000 of these patients were hospitalized. In 2012, the direct medical costs of falls, adjusted for inflation, were $30 billion.
Other than exorbitant cost of money caused by falls, the devastating health outcomes of falls on our loved ones are heart breaking and could even affect your very own health. Fractures could involve the spine, hip, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm, and hand that could permanently affect one’s functionality and mobility.
How can we ensure fall prevention? Is your home set up for fall prevention? When health care professionals come to someone’s home for the initial assessment for home care, it is critical for the health professional to assess physical layout as a protective measure.
Questions commonly asked are:
- Are there grab bars in the bathroom?
- Are there scattered rags/carpet?
- Are there electrical cords on the floor?
- Are the floors slippery?
Some ways to make homes safer by reducing tripping hazards are:
- Adding grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower and next to the toilet
- Adding railings on both sides of stairways
- Improving the lighting in their homes.
- Maintaining order and cleanliness
- Considering non-skid floors
- Widening doors or changing the hinges for easier access of walker or wheelchair access
What else can be done?
- Seniors must increase weight bearing exercises.
- Seniors must have simple balance exercises
- Seniors must have some sun every day to enhance Vitamin D level for bone and over-all health
- Seniors must have good multi-phyto and calcium supplements for flexible bone structure that can be stressed tap without fracture in case of fall.
- Have primary physician or nurse regularly assess medications with their effects in balance and mobility such as dizziness, drowsiness and weakness or just “not feeling well”
- Hire health aide assistance during critical times and events such as showering, preparation of food, cleanliness and laundry.
- Surround yourself with experts in structural improvements and renovations that knows efficiency with safety responsive to the needs of your loved ones.
We all have only one life to live. We might as well provide the best till the end of time. In the end, there will be no regrets, only treasured moments. Keep the joy in your family.