Falls In The Home Are Preventable

Share Button

By Richard Ueberfluss

seniors2A recent study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that falls among the elderly are common, with as many as 40% of people age 65 and older falling each year. Falls can lead to serious injuries, such as a fractured hip or concussion – but are largely preventable.

Since 2007, Medicare has been trying to encourage seniors to get a “Falls Risk Assessment” done if : 1) They have fallen more than once in past 12 months..2) They have fallen and been injured (bruises count!)…3) Have a fear of falling. People over the age of 65 are at the highest risk for a fall or dizziness-induced injury.

Aging is not an automatic cause for falls in the home. Following are the five most common steps to take to prevent at-home falls:

1. Using medication incorrectly may lead to dizziness, so be especially aware of medication changes and talk with your doctor about symptoms.

2. More than 75 percent of people suffering with dizziness/vertigo have an inner ear (vestibular) disorder which can be corrected without medication.

3. Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor. You may be wearing the wrong glasses or have a condition such as glaucoma or cataracts that limits your vision. Poor vision can increase your chances of falling.

4. Exercise is one of the most important ways to reduce your chances of falling. It makes you stronger and helps you feel better. While all exercise is not equal where balance is concerned, exercise makes you stronger and helps you feel better. Challenge your balance by walking around the house or yard barefooted, learn Tai-Chi, when watching TV…raise your legs a few inches from the floor and count to 10, then straighten your legs and count to 10.

5. To make your home safer, remove obstacles that may cause falls (cords, non-anchored rugs, etc.), use grab bars in the bathroom, improve lighting, and wear shoes with good support and non-slip soles.

Falls are most common when seniors are unattended by caregivers. If a family member is unavailable, hiring a home aide can help prevent at-home falls, especially those that have been trained in fall prevention. Home aides also can monitor medications and help layout living space to eliminate obstacles that could cause falls.

It is simply not acceptable to have so many seniors hurt as a result of home falls. Taking the steps in fall prevention can lower healthcare costs and improve the quality life for seniors.

– Richard Ueberfluss is a certified physical therapist and president of Assisting Hands-Chicago. He can be reached at this web site.