Today is National Falls Prevention Awareness Day!
On this day, national, state and local partners collaborate on educating the public about fall prevention strategies and the impact of falls.
The topic of falls “prevention” reminded me of a conversation with one of my friends…
She told me she was about to exit a parking lot recently when she noticed an older gentleman having a difficult time walking from his car to the door of the bank. She explained that he walked very slowly, shuffled his feet and looked unsteady, “like he would fall at any moment.” She struggled with the thought of “walking him” to the door but she hesitated to help since she didn’t know if the gentleman would be insulted or grateful for her assistance.
That was a tough decision for her.
This led me to wonder… how often does an aging adult really need help? How often do falls really occur?
Let’s look at some shocking facts:
- The highest number of hip fractures is in people over age 75. By age 85, 1 out of 10 falls results in a fracture.
- One-fourth of seniors with fractured hips die within 6 months of the fall.
And then, there are many times people fall without injury, but they CANNOT GET UP!
Is there anything we can DO to keep ourselves and our aging friends and loved ones as safe as possible?
Here is a list of 12 things to consider if YOU want to help:
- Vision needs to be checked often and regularly.
- Have the doctor review medications for side effects and interactions.
- Find a senior fitness class for regular strengthening and flexibility exercises.
- Keep home pathways clear. Remove objects that someone could trip over.
- Check that shoes are fitting properly with nonskid soles.
- Beware of uneven surfaces, changes in the level of flooring, as in doorways or between carpeting and a wood floor.
- Encourage the use of assistance devices, if needed (cane or walker) to keep steady.
- Remove throw rugs. They create the uneven surface level just mentioned and are often dangerous for slipping or sliding.
- Be sure there is ample lighting, with switches at both ends of stairways, night lights for the path from bedroom to bathroom.
- Add grab bars in the bathroom near the toilet and in the shower.
- Consider a personal emergency alert system.
- Be aware of your own pet if an older adult visits your home. Don’t let your dog jump on your guest. Pets, their toys, and food bowls create fall hazards.
What do you think YOU would have done if you had seen the old man walking into the bank?
Do you feel comfortable talking with your loved ones about falls prevention?