Each year, over 3 million older Americans are treated in emergency departments for injuries related to falls. Of those, 800,000 are hospitalized due to their fall injury, most often from head trauma or hip fractures. (CDC)
The facts on falling are staggering:
One in five falls causes serious injury like broken bones or head injuries
More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling
Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries
Total medical costs for falls total over $50 billion
The Three Point Check for Fall Prevention
Our caregivers are trained in fall prevention to ensure each of our clients are as safe as possible in their homes and while away. They’ve put together three easy-to-follow steps to help all people keep themselves and their loved ones safe from dangerous falls. Learn the steps in less than five minutes using our guide below!
Step One – Identify Risk Factors
Talk with your loved one about their current risk for falling by evaluating their level of risk. Risk factors for falling include:
Risky movement behaviors (like rushing or dragging feet)
Use of multiple medications
A history of falls
Issues with mobility
Join or muscle weakness
Step Two – Identify Falling and Tripping Hazards
Now that you have a better understanding of your or your loved one’s propensity for falling, next, you’ll want to evaluate the home for tripping hazards. Most falls do happen in the home from issues that can be fixed easily, if given proper attention. Use our checklist below to evaluate your home:
Room-by-Room Floor Check
Are all rugs secured with double-sided tape or rug mats?
Is there any clutter blocking pathways that can be removed?
Are all electrical cords taped in place or under cord covers?
Steps and Stairs Check
Are all steps free of clutter? (decorations, shoes, clothing, etc.)
Is there ample and accessible lighting above all stairs and steps?
Are there handrails? If so, are they secured tightly to the wall?
Are your most commonly used kitchen items accessible and easy to reach?
Are there cleaning products on hand to easily wipe up spills as they happen?
Can you adjust your kitchen to accommodate seating during foot prep?
Do you have non-slip mats or stick strips on the floor of your shower or tub?
Is your tub or shower floor free from soap scum and buildup (which can be slippery)?
Do you have a tub sear or bench available in your shower or bathtub?
Have you installed grab bars inside the tub/shower and next to the toilet?
Do you have lighting that is easily accessible next to your bed?
Are there nightlights between your bedroom and other areas of the home?
Do you have close access to a phone or medical alert system?
Step Three – Improve Habits to Avoid Falls
Now that you’ve reviewed the conditions that can lead to greater risk of falling and have evaluated your home for hazards, it’s time to start working on safer habits! Use our quick tips below to help improve your daily routine and avoid dangerous falls:
Make Home Safety Improvements – did you answer “no” to any of the questions in our checklist above? If so, you’ll want to remedy that issue as soon as possible. Safety aids like grab bars, no-slip rug mats, and shower/bath floor mats are available at all major retailers.
Make an Eye Appointment – it’s best practice to have your vision checked yearly by an eye doctor. Vision can change quickly, and it can affect your depth perception and peripheral vision which can increase your risk for falling.
Get Proper Footwear – one of the easiest ways to limit your risk is to wear well-fitting shoes with rubber soles. Socks and bare feet can be slippery while most dress shoes and sandals don’t offer proper foot and ankle support.
Practice Getting Up – it might seem silly, but one of the best things you can do to avoid falls is to practice getting up and down from your furniture and bed. This will help build muscle memory and will improve your muscle strength in general, making you more stable during these vulnerable moments.
Keep an Eye on Pets – if you have pets in the home, take a moment to scan the room and identify where they are – this will help to ensure you don’t trip over them as you move through your home.
Exercise Regularly – incorporating movement into your daily routine can help improve your strength, balance, and coordination, which will also reduce your risk of falling.
Review Your Medicines with Your Prescriber – talk with your doctor or pharmacist about your medications, vitamins, and supplements to make sure there aren’t any negative side effects or interactions that could affect balance or vision.
Every Bit Helps
Limiting your risk of falling is a cumulative effort – the more you do, the safer you will be. If you feel as though you are at greater risk for falling, but you are unsure how to proceed or need a little help getting there, contact your local ameriCARE. Our dedicated, trained caregivers are experts in fall safety and can help you make a plan to keep you and your loved ones safe at home!