June is National Safety Month, and this week's theme is falls.
Crutches. Canes. Casts. Wheelchairs. Walkers. Boots. What do these devices all have in common? Helping someone injured or immobile to get around safely.
A couple years ago, I missed a step on my way out the door and ended up with sprained ligaments in my foot. Crutches?
Slips, falls and resulting injuries can happen at any age. One wrong step, one slick floor, one errant wire can change the course of your life for a season, if not permanently.
The elderly are especially prone to slips, trips and falls.
- 1 in 4 seniors fall each year; less than 50% tell their doctor.
- 3 million seniors are treated annually in ERs for fall injuries.
- Some 300,000 annually are hospitalized for hip fractures. 95% of those are cause by falls.
- 1 in 5 falls cause serious injuries like broken bones or head trauma.
How can we prevent falls? First, understand why someone might be prone to falls. If you're speaking with an older adult, ask about conditions or medications that may lead to a fall risk. Work with them to have them speak to their doctor or eye doctor to see if their medications or current health issues may be a factor. Follow instructions, such as physical therapy or wearing glasses to help.
Do an in home assessment and walk through to see if there are any fall hazards - ie. extension cords in the open, broken or rickety stairs or railings, observe their footwear. Help them make their home safer - fix broken stairs, put in strong railings and grab bars by the showers, toilets and other areas that may need them. Make sure their is plenty of light, use brighter bulbs and put in more light fixtures in dark areas to help.
Take steps to help the older adults in your life to be safe and to practice good health and decisions in preventing falls.
- Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
- US National Library of Medicine - National Health Institute
- 9 Ways to Prevent Falling at Home, EverydayHealth.com