As the number of seniors in America is growing, many are at risk for falls. What’s the best way you can protect your aging loved one from this danger? Keep their home safe! This article offers practical steps that will allow them to do just that-from removing hazards all around the house through installing assistive devices or adapting technologies so they’re safer while staying active.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the leading cause of injury-related visits to emergency rooms in the United States. In 2019, the emergency department recorded 3 million visits for older adult falls.
Home accidents are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among older adults, according to the CDC. People age 75 years or older account for 60 percent of home fall incidents. Falling can cause serious hip fractures, head trauma, depression and even death. Even minor falls could lead to broken bones or other injuries that prevent seniors from living independently.
Falls among adults 65 and older caused over 34,000 deaths in 2019, making it the leading cause of injury death for that group. The CDC projects that the number of fall injuries will increase as baby boomers age and Americans live longer.
Older adult falls cost $50 billion in medical costs annually, with 3/4 paid by Medicare and Medicaid.
Seniors are much more likely to suffer injuries because they are less steady on their feet. According to the National Institute of Health, senior falls account for 96 percent of all hip fractures in people age 65 years or older. One out of five people who have a hip fracture dies within one year. The risk of a fatal injury from a fall is magnified in seniors with cataracts, arthritis and Parkinson’s disease because of vision problems, joint stiffness and mobility issues.
- Each year over 300,000 older people—those 65 and older—are hospitalized for hip fractures.(Ref:https://hcupnet.ahrq.gov/#setup)
- More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling,2 usually by falling sideways.(Ref:https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10441647/)
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that there were over 46 million people over the age of 65 in 2010, which represents about 13 percent of the population. The number is expected to double by 2050 because of baby boomers turning age 65, according to the National Institute on Aging.
Falls are not just an issue in nursing homes; in 2009, 22 percent of people who fell at their own homes were age 75 years or older, according to the CDC. The rate at which seniors fall is increasing due to secondary health problems such as arthritis and diabetes, medications with side effects that affect gait and loss of vision.
The CDC suggests these tips for seniors to avoid falls:
– Improve lighting throughout the home.
– Remove clutter that could cause tripping.
– Make sure carpets are secure and not slippery.
– If needed, use a cane or walker to help improve balance. Use sturdy footwear with nonslip treads; low heels that do not catch on the floor; and a supportive brace if needed.
– If possible, use a raised toilet seat or bench to avoid falling off the toilet.
– Use bathmats with non-slip surfaces.
– Have senior clients take their medications as directed. Seniors should discuss any unnecessary drugs with their doctors since they might cause them to be unsteady on their feet.
– If the senior has vision problems, make sure they use reading glasses and a cane or walker if needed when walking; consider having them fitted with special glasses that correct double vision and darken in sunlight (photochromic lenses).
– Check with your medical provider about any medications that might cause dizziness, such as sleeping aids and antihistamines.
– If the senior suffers from arthritis or other joint problems, their doctor should fit them with custom shoes and orthotics.
– Seniors can reduce falls by adding handrails to stairs; installing grab bars in bathrooms; using nightlights; having an area close to the bed to put their glasses, telephone or other objects they need before sleeping; adding lighting to sidewalks for night walks; having walkways cleared of snow and ice.
– Seniors can reduce their risk of falling by strengthening leg muscles, practicing balance exercises and getting help with regular exercise.
– Regular exercise programs can decrease falls by 30 percent, according to the American Geriatric Society. Some exercises that seniors can do at home are yoga, tai chi and resistance training.
– The AARP also suggests staying socially active because it helps keep the mind sharp.
To learn more on how Horizon Care Services caregivers can be there for you and your loved one , contact us 1-877-227-3890 to learn more about our services.