• November 14, 2019

STONE: Prevent falls at home - Odessa American: Levi Stone

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STONE: Prevent falls at home

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Posted: Sunday, September 29, 2019 5:45 am

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that approximately 1.8 million people over the age of 65 were treated in the emergency room as a result of a fall.

While the statistics support that all age groups carry risks for fall related injuries, the elderly are at greater risk. This is due to factors more likely to be present among the elderly versus others, such as; impaired vision, lack of physical activity, side effects of different medications, and a variety of medical conditions making them more prone to fall. Therefore, fall prevention is of greatest priority among people aged 65 and older.

The biggest impact in fall prevention begins at home. Since 60 percent of all falls occur at home, evaluating every square inch including rooms, hallways and space within one’s residence is necessary to minimize or eliminate known or potential fall hazards.

While many hazards are very obvious, several others can be more obscure or even missed. The following tips and suggestions can help safeguard your home against falls:

Remove clutter: Unnecessary items in and around the house can pile up quickly, often invading into paths from one area to another. Routinely picking up items off the floor, disposing of trash, and keeping every room neat and tidy removes unnecessary obstacles that would otherwise be another trip hazard.

Maintain proper lighting: Poorly lit rooms and hallways can hide or obscure uneven surfaces as well as any unanticipated items left on floors. If any area in your home is not lit properly, consider additional overhead lighting and/or nightlights as needed. Another effort to improve lighting is to simply change light bulbs with a higher illumination output to create a brighter environment.

Get rid of throw rugs: As nice as they may be in tying a room together, throw rugs create an abrupt gradient change from the flooring surface they are on. This creates an otherwise preventable trip hazard and they should be removed from all areas in the home.

Proper footwear: Socks are a good way to keep feet warm, but make sure they are of the non-slip variety with grips on the soles to avoid slips. Shoes are always a best option, in lieu of socks.

Grip bars and handles: Installing grip bars or handles in and around the home, especially in bathrooms (in the shower/tub and by the toilet) to allow extra support to help getting up and out of these areas which are more prone for fall risks.

Mobility and strength are also two factors to address fall risks. Work with your doctor to coordinate an exercise and strength training program to keep muscles and joints at their peak condition.

Sedentary lifestyle can cause muscles to weaken and thus increase your risk for falls and injury. Your healthcare provider may suggest working with a physical and/or occupational therapist to develop a program that is right for you to maximize your flexibility, dexterity and overall strength.

The adage of a “body that remains in motion, stays in motion” is so true and every effort to remain active should be done.

Some additional facts to consider that paint a very sobering picture … 67 percent of fall fatalities involve people aged 75 and older, falls account for 87 percent of all fractures among people over the age of 65, and are the second leading cause of spinal cord and brain injury which can lead to long- term disabilities.

If there’s one single risk that can impact the elderly population, it’s falls. Starting today, make every effort to safeguard against fall injuries.

Odessa, TX

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