The rate of death from falls among US residents age 65 and older continues to climb steadily, increasing 31 % between 2007 and 2016, growing at a rapid rate among those aged 85 and above.
During the 10 years tracked, falls-related deaths among US residents 65 and older rose from18,334 to 29,668 that is an increase from 47 per 100,00 to 61.6 per 100,00. Deaths climbed about 3% according to the report. Men had higher rates of fall-related deaths than women – 73.2 per 100,00men compared with 54 per 100,00 per women.
Better prevention efforts can result in health care cost savings, expenditures on non-fatal falls reached nearly $50 billion in 2015 and costs associated with fatal falls nearly 754 million.
Important Fall Prevention Tips
1. Always wear supportive shoes.
2. NEVER stand on a chair when you change a light bulb or reach to a high shelve or cabinet. If you must reach a high shelf, purchase a sturdy stepladder or step stool.
3. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to see if any of your medication should have the side effect of dizziness or loss of balance. Every time you visit a new doctor, you should take ALL of your prescription bottles so they can see if there could possibly be a drug interaction side effect causing instability.
4. Use special caution on the stairs. If someone calls your name while on the stairs, do not turn around to answer them as this may throw off your balance. Wait until you get to the bottom.
5. It is important to be aware of your last step! It is very easy to think you are on the last step but, if you are not paying attention, you may still be on the second or third step from the bottom. At home memorize the number of steps to be negotiated.
6. Get rid of your throw rugs. Even when tacked down securely, the change in surface height has caused many fall.
7. Be careful with pets. Older adults have been known to trip over their pets(especially if eyesight is poor). Also, be aware of any toy or item your pet may have put in your pathway that you did not know about. (this goes for Grandkids , too)
8. Try to avoid quick jerky movements. Many falls that occur on slippery or icy surfaces could have been avoided with slower movements and become more aware of the condition of the ground.
9. Have your vision checked regularly?
10. Have your hearing checked regularly?
11. Use caution in getting up to quickly after eating, lying down or resting. Changes in blood pressure may cause dizziness at these times.
12. Alcohol can cause a loss of balance, particularly with older adults as most are on multiple medications. Your body may not be able to metabolize the alcohol the same as when you were younger, be careful and moderate in your consumption.
13. Curbs can be dangerous.Some are poorly identified, broken, very high and sometimes poorly illuminated. Be alert as you enter and exit areas that have curbs. It is so easy to be talking to a friend and not be alert to danger.
14. Maintain a regular program of activity. Find a suitable exercise program for you and stick to it.
15. If you do not feel 100% confident on escalators, do not use them. Take the extra time to seek out an elevator. One study showed 40,000 falls occurring in one year.
16. Do not be shy about asking for assistance when you need it. Many older adults do not want to “bother” anyone asking for household repairs, for example, but if you fall and sustain serious injuries, there will be much caregiving needed.
17. Practice daily standing one one leg while holding onto your countertop: count to 5 slowly. Then switch legs and repeat 3 times, once you are able to do that without quivering, let go of the countertop. Gradually work up to 10 seconds on each side, repeat 3 times.
18. Consider getting a home assessment and get your home “fall Proofed”. There are companies that will go through your home and assess what would be helpful. More guard rails, better lighting, etc.
This checklist was taken from “How To Prevent Falls” by Betty Perkins-Carpenter, PhD.
The book can be purchased from: www.howtopreventfalls.com
Can you turn on a light without having to walk into a dark room You should always turn on lights before going into a room, even for a moment.
Do you move slowly when lighting is dim, your eyes time to adjust between well-lit or dark areas ?
Do you replace burnt-out bulbs immediately ?
Do you have night lights in your hallways, bedrooms,stairs and living areas ?
Nightlights are inexpensive and invaluable for visibility at night, in stairwells, hallways, bath & bedrooms.
Do you keep a flashlight by your bed ? Be sure to check the batteries frequently.
Are there lights /light switches installed at both the top and bottom of the stairs ?
Is the lighting bright but not creating glare ?
Do you wear sunglasses during bright days or around ice/snow to reduce blinding glare ?
Do You use non-skid wax, or no wax at all on polished floors ?
Are walkways kept clear of things that could trip you such as cords, or low furniture ?
Do you immediately replace breaks in linoleum, broken floorboards or flooring that is buckling ?
Do you arrange your furniture in each room so that a clear and wide lane is left open ?
Do you clean up spills on floors immediately ?
Does your favorite chair have arm rests that are long enough to help you get up and sit down ?
Are your chairs and tables stable enough to support weight if you lean on them ?
Are your outdoor stairs and walkways free from cracks, dips and holes ?
Can you clearly see the outline of each step as you go both up and down ?
Each step can be marked with brightly colored adhesive tape strips.
Do not use shag carpets, deep-piled carpets or carpets with busy patterns on stairs.
Do all stairways have securely-fixed handrails on both sides ?
Rails should extend beyond the top and bottom steps and the ends should turn in. If you should start to fall, do not let go of the railing: hang on.
Does your hand wrap easily and completely around the rail ?
Rails should be round and anchored one to two inches away from the wall.
Are all carpets and runners well-fastened down ?
Use double-sided tape or carpet tacks. Repair holes in carpeting. Get rid of frayed rugs.
Do stairs have even surfaces (no metal strips or rubber mats to trip you) ?
Do the tub and shower have rubber mats, non-skid strips or non-skid surfaces?
Do you have a grab bar on the wall or side of the tub/shower?
If balance or weakness is a problem, you should use a bath seat.
Can you get on and off the toilet easily ?
If not, you should install a raised toilet seat and fix a grab bar into the wall next to the toilet.
Do you always test the tub or shower water to make sure it is not too hot, so that you do not make a quick, reactive movement and lose your balance ?
If you splash water or suds from the tub onto the floor, do you wipe it up right away ?
As an added precaution, do you dry yourself off before getting out of the tub/shower ?
Do you take time to find your balance when you sit up after lying down, or stand up after sitting ?
Do you wear rubber-soled, low-heeled shoes? Do your slippers fit well and have soles that provide traction ?
Keep the bottom of your shoes clean. Avoid walking in stocking feet or in socks.
If you feel dizzy from to time, do you use a cane, walking stick or walker ?
Do you watch for slippery pavement when walking outdoors and entering/leaving cars.
When walking on slippery or uneven surfaces, relax your knees and take shorter steps to keep your center of balance under you.
When you get out of a car, do you test the ground for wetness before standing up and walking ? Don’t hurry – be wary.
Do you avoid rushing to answer the phone/doorbell ?
Walk down stairs carefully, be especially careful of the last step. Do not talk to anyone while walking down the steps. Wait until you reach the bottom. Do not turn your head to respond.
Curbs can be dangerous. Some are poorly identified, broken,very high,sometimes badly illuminated. Stay alert.
Do not walk backwards, especially at the supermarket. Take the extra few minutes and go around the aisle.
Maintain a regular program of activity. Many people enjoy walking, swimming or exercise. Mild weight-bearing activities may reduce to loss of bone from osteoporosis. It is important to check with your doctor or physical therapist to plan a suitable exercise program.
You can purchase COPIES OF Betty Perkins-Carpenter, Ph.D BOOK CONTACT: www.howtopreventfalls.com