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Senior Living: Fall Precautions

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Falling Danger

Here at Episcopal Retirement Homes, Inc., we like to see our residents and other seniors living well, but whether you live independently or with assisted care, we know that older adults often face some unique challenges to their wellbeing—like being at a greater risk for falls.

As experts in gracious senior living, we recognize that older adults deserve to make your own decisions about your health, so we’ve put together this tip sheet to help you stay informed and reduce the chances of suffering from a fall.

Understand Your Risks

Americans over the age of 65 are at greater risk for falls.  Existing conditions or other external hazards combine to make falls the #1 cause of injury related deaths for seniors.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), one out of every three Americans, age 65 and older, suffers a fall every year, but less than half of that number talks to their healthcare providers about it.

Recognize that Falls Can Have Serious Results

  • Falls can cause serious injuries such as bone fractures (most commonly in the hip,Hospital Emergency Room pelvis, or spine) or brain trauma—injuries that can make it hard to get around or live independently, and increase the risk of premature death.

  • Falls can lower seniors’ quality of life due to a pervasive fear of falling again that causes seniors to avoid circumstances where they may risk falling again such as exercise or even social activities.

  • Falls can have severe financial repercussions with lengthy hospital stays and subsequent rehabilitation expenses.  According to the CDC, in 2010 the direct medical costs of falls, adjusted for inflation, was $30 billion.

Be Aware of Risk Factors

Risks can be environmental, created by certain medications (e.g. diuretics or tranquilizers) or by hazards that can cause tripping such as slippery or uneven flooring, poor lighting, and walking in socks or ill-fitted shoes.

There are also personal risk factors that can increase your chance of a fall such as having a history of falls, vision problems (e.g. changes in depth perception), weak muscles, trouble with balance or posture, urgent toileting needs, trouble remembering or understanding information, dizziness or difficulty walking.

Know How to Prevent Falls.

Speak with your doctor.  Make an appointment to evaluate your medications and health conditions that may be increasing your risk.

Exercise Regularly. Physical activity can go a long way toward preventing a fall.  With the approval of your physician, consider adopting a regimen of activities like walking, water aerobics, or tai chi to improve strength and balance.

Wear sensible shoes.  Wearing high heels, ill-fitting shoes, socks without shoes, or shoes with slick soles can affect balance and cause you to slip or stumble and then fall.  These falls can be avoided by not walking around in your stockings, having your feet measured to ensure you buy shoes that fit, and selecting sturdy shoes with nonskid soles.

Reduce home hazards.Slick surfaces, stacks of boxes, loose pages of newspaper, jumbles of electrical cords, and loose carpets all present tripping hazards.  As does having to stretch for out of reach items.  Avoid falls by placing nonslip mats in bathrooms and on slippery floors; keeping your walkways clear; ensuring that rugs are secured with double-faced tape or slip-resistant backing; and storing clothing, dishes, food, and other necessities within easy reach.

Increase your visibility. Have a vision screening at least once a year and update your prescription as necessary to maximize you vision and keep your living spaces well-lighted.  Having proper illumination helps you avoid tripping on objects that might be hard to see.

Use assisted living devices.  Hand rails on both sides of a stairway, nonslip treads on bare wood steps, augmented toilet seats, grab bars, and shower chairs for the bathroom can all reduce your risk of falling.

If you have questions about our services or how you can continue living well in the future, contact Episcopal Retirement Homes at 513.272.5555 ext 4371.

March 20, 2013

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