5 Tips for Preventing Falls

5 Tips for Preventing Falls

Falls are the leading cause of death and injury for adults over 65. According to the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, more than 28,000 people die every year due to a fall-related injury with total medical expenditures exceeding $50 billion.

Falls Affect Many Americans 65+

undefined• One out of every four Americans aged 65+ fall each year. Falling once doubles an older adult’s chances of falling again.
• Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.
• One out of five falls causes a serious injury such as hip fractures, broken bones or head injuries.
• Each year 2.8 million older adults are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries. This includes over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,700 deaths.
• Over 300,000 older adults are hospitalized for hip fractures each year. More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling.
• Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.
• Falls, with or without injury, impact quality of life. A growing number of older adults fear falling and, as a result, limit their activities and social engagements. This can result in physical decline, depression, social isolation, and feelings of helplessness.

With some thought and proper planning, you can make your home safe and easy to navigate. The American Occupations Therapist Association (AOTA) offers the following tips for staying safe in your home.

5 Tips for Keeping Your Home Safe

Tip 1: Remove clutter in your home and arrange furniture so you may walk around the room freely. If you are using furniture to balance yourself, you should consider getting an assistive device, such as a walker, to navigate around your house in a safer manner. Also, make sure walkways are free of clutter. If you have rugs, ensure they are properly fastened to the floor.

Tip 2: Do not use towel bars, sink edges or counters for support. They could come off the wall or the surface could be slippery, causing you to lose your balance. Look for places to install grab bars (such as showers, along with nonslip strips to prevent slipping) and railings within your home. These can be installed in the kitchen, down hallways, bedrooms and any other place you feel they are appropriate.

Tip 3: Update lighting in your home. Look for areas that are dark, such as the bottom of stairs and hallways.

Tip 4: Do not stand on chairs or stools to reach items. Keep a sturdy stool in your kitchen to reach higher cabinets. Consider moving harder-to-reach items in the cabinet to lower shelf locations.

Tip 5: Immediately wipe up spills on the floor. Even a small amount of water on the floor can be a hazard.

If you feel you need additional help or recommendations on making your home safe, reach out to an Occupational Therapist for guidance. The National Home Builders Association also has a program for builders known as the Certified Aging in Places Specialist (CAPS). CAPS can assist in performing home modifications to comply with local building codes.

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