Preventing falls at home is important for everyone; especially older folks. Every year, millions of people over age 65 go to the emergency room because they fall. More than one quarter of older people fall each year.
Broken hips and head injuries are the most commonly treated fall injuries, with over 2.8 senior patients treated each year. 800,000 of those people require hospitalization. Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries
Falls cost big money
Fall injuries are in the top 20 of most expensive medical conditions. In 2015, fall injury treatment was responsible for over $31 billion billed to Medicare.
Unfortunately, the cost for treating fall-related injuries increases as you age.
What contributes to the risk of falling?
There are certain things which can increase your risk of falling. For instance, certain types of medicines can affect your equilibrium and how clear you think. There also are health conditions that can affect your chances, such as eye or ear conditions (which can cause dizziness), joint problems, breathing problems or numbness. (Talk to your doctor if you believe medications or conditions are making you feel unsteady.)
Preventing falls in the bathroom
Let the light shine (some) - Dim light can cause you to trip or stumble. Too much light can cause glaring, which can do the same thing. Balance natural and artificial light, and get the right amount for different areas of your home. If you can, get light into the tub/shower area.
Floors - Add a non-skid mat, strips or coating to the shower floor. Install flooring in your bathroom with texture that has a non-glare finish. Get rid of your bath mat or throw rugs. And, keep floors clear of clutter.
Shower/Tubs - Get a shower or tub seat installed. Install grab bars inside the shower and outside the shower for safe exit. Have a no-step shower installed. Install pressure control and anti-scald controls. And, make sure you can reach towels, shampoo, etc. easily from the shower.
Toilet area - Install grab bars in the toilet area for easier standing and sitting. Make sure the toilet paper holder is easy to reach. (Yes, falling in this circumstance happens more than you think.) Also, consider installing a comfort-height toilet
Exercise - Regular exercise is great for fall prevention. Focus on exercises that can help improve your physical strength, balance and flexibility. Check your local Y, health clubs or senior centers for classes.
Taking steps now to prevent falls in your home can not only save you money; it could save your life.
As always, nothing can take the place of help from trained professionals. Talk with your doctor about any health concerns or conditions which you think may contribute to your chances of falling. Also, never attempt to install any safety equipment or accessories yourself. Instead, have a licensed and experienced professional do the work for you.
After a fall
Not all falls will send you to the hospital. (Statistically, about 1 in 5 falls cause serious injury.) But, after you’ve had a fall, it sometimes can be hard (or impossible) to get back to life as usual.
And, once you’ve fallen, you actually double your chances of falling again.
Injuries from falling can seriously affect your ability to do what you want to, when you want to do it. Including, everyday activities or living on your own.
So, be good to yourself and your family. Get serious about preventing falls in your home.
Costs of Falls Among Older Adults, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/fallcost.html
Important Facts About Falls, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html
How Individuals Can Prevent Falls (PDF Guide), Steady U Ohio, http://aging.ohio.gov/steadyu/inc/docs/STEADYU_PnG_Individuals.pdf
Bathroom Safety, AgeInPlace.com, http://ageinplace.com/at-home/home-safety/edlerly-bathroom-safety/
Falls, Medline Plus, https://medlineplus.gov/falls.html
Fall Prevention: Simple Tips to Prevent Falls, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/healthy-aging/in-depth/fall-prevention/art-20047358?p=1
Seniors and Falls: Statistics and Prevention, Comfort Keepers, http://www.comfortkeepers.com/home/info-center/senior-independent-living/seniors-and-falls-statistics-and-prevention#sthash.oHvBCGxB.dpuf