Preventing Falls & Injuries
Injuries Among Older Adults
Every year in the United States, 1 in 3 persons aged 65 years and older will fall.
Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of injuries, hospital admissions for trauma, and deaths due to injury. And approximately 250,000 hip fractures, the most serious fracture, occur each year among people over age 65. Many of these falls and resulting injuries can be prevented.
Strategies to prevent falls among older adults include exercises to improve strength, balance, and flexibility; reviews of medications that may affect balance; and home modifications that reduce fall hazards such as installing grab bars, improving lighting, and removing items that may cause tripping.
Safety Tips for Preventing Falls in the Home
Falls can occur at any age, but the rates of injury and death resulting from falls are greatest among seniors. This can happen because of changes in muscle and bone strength, vision, hearing, and coordination that take place with aging. But there are steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of falls. The following are guidelines you can use to make your home safer.
All Areas of the Home
- Contrast in paint, furniture and carpet colors are helpful.
- Ensure that stairways have sturdy handrails.
- Keep halls, stairways, and pathways well lighted and free of clutter and obstacles. Keep walk areas clear.
- Apply slip strips on the edges of steps to reduce slick stair surfaces.
- Remove throw rugs or tack down securely with double sided adhesive tape. Tape down carpet edges.
- Place electrical cords and telephone wires away from walking paths.
- Post emergency numbers at every telephone. Carry a portable phone.
- Apply non-skid appliqués on tub and shower floors.
- Install grab bars in the tub and around toilet. Consider a shower chair.
- Avoid throw rugs or tack rugs down securely.
- Keep bathrooms well lighted.
- Keep commonly used items within easy reach.
- Avoid using floor polish or wax to reduce slick surfaces on floors.
- Keep a telephone and light within easy reach of the bed.
- Rise slowly from bed to sitting position. Dangle your legs for a few minutes prior to standing and walking.
Outdoor Safety Measures
- Keep walk areas clear of clutter, rocks and tools. Keep well lighted at night.
- Keep walkways clear of snow and ice.
- Make sure walkways are level, free of cracks, loose gravel, holes, and constructed with slip resistant materials.
Steps You Can Take to Reduce Your Risk of a Fall
- Have regular vision and hearing check-ups.
- Clean eye glasses often to improve visibility.
- Wear proper fitting, supportive shoes with low heels or rubber soles.
- A proper diet and moderate exercise are essential.
- Use walking aids when necessary.
- See your doctor for the diagnosis, management, and treatment of underlying diseases.
- Talk to your pharmacist about side effects of your medications.