This week (September 23-29) is Fall Prevention Awareness Week, and there’s a lot that you can do to prevent falls. Going around your house and picking up clutter is the most obvious step to take. Don’t wait until a fall happens to you or a loved one to take action. Prevention is always sensible.
Who’s Most at Risk?
Is everyone equally at high risk for serious falls, though? The truth is that older Americans have a one-in-three chance of sustaining a serious fall in any given year.
What’s more, fewer than half of these fall victims will report the fall to their primary care physician.
Considering falls are the primary cause of injury among older Americans, a failure to report is serious business, especially since small injuries can develop in to larger problems later for seniors. Cuts and hip fractures are very real possibilities, and those are often detected, or at least suspected.
Subtler joint damage or brain injuries can be the true lasting effects of a serious fall. Always report a serious fall to your primary care physician.
If you have an unsteady gait or you’re taking care of someone with special needs, then talk to your doctor at the Balance & Dizziness Center about preventive steps since about half of falls can be prevented!
Avoid Baggy Clothing
Baggy clothing can easily snag on things around the house and cause tripping all by itself. Loose pants can get wrapped up under shoes and cause a catastrophic spill.
While on the topic of clothing, try wearing shoes with a tight fit, as opposed to loose slippers without a backing, and ones with fresh tread on the bottom for a firm grip.
Remove Tripping Hazards
Picking up clutter is a great way to making your home less of a tripping hazard. There’s a tendency as we get older to retain things like newspapers and magazines beyond their expiration date.
If you notice newspapers and magazines piling up near staircases and poorly-lit hallways, then consider boxing them up and moving them to a bedroom. Then again, the trash outside might be a better destination.
Your home itself can be a hazard, however. Home fixtures and loose carpeting can oftentimes contribute to serious falls because homeowners, especially older homeowners, are not anticipating taking a fall when traversing a room.
Tripping in these everyday environments can understandably catch one totally off guard, which creates more problems because there’s less bracing for a big fall.
Adding a bathroom rug can render a tiled bathroom floor less of a fall hazard, repairing wooden floorboards that are peeling upwards, and installing guardrails along stairs can all reduce the chances of a fall.
Add Ample Lighting
Adding nightlights in the bedroom and motion-sensing lights around the house can decreases the chances that poor nighttime visibility translates into a nasty fall.
Brighter bulbs – a bright light bulb is one producing more lumens, a measure of brightness – might be recommended for older Americans. Stairways and hallways might especially benefit from being better lit.