More than 800,000 people are hospitalized each year because of some type of a fall injury. Most of these injuries involve the head or hip. This year, approximately one third of elderly people will be involved in some type of fall.
So, what can we do to help prevent falling injuries, especially with our elderly family and friends? Experts suggest you consider some or all of the following:
De-clutter: make sure the living space is easy to navigate and remove all potential tripping hazards especially in hallways and around staircases;
Remove or repair potential tripping hazards: do a walk-through of the living area to determine if there are any items that need to be removed, such as loose carpeting, throw rugs that can be quite slippery or flooring that is cracked or defective. Make sure those items are either removed, repaired or replaced;
Install handrails or grab bars: you should consider installing these safety devices in bathrooms and in hallways which are some of the most common places where the elderly slip or trip and fall;
Check the lighting: darkness or inadequate lighting is another major factor that contributes to falls. Consider installing brighter light bulbs or lights where there is a need for additional illumination;
Install nonslip surfaces in bathtubs and showers: you might want to also consider installing these non-slip surfaces in areas around doorways, porches and any outside areas that become slick when wet or icy; and
Slow down: please impress upon your elderly family member or friend the need to slow things down. If someone is rushing or moving quickly their chances of falling are greatly increased.
As we get older, the chances of slipping or tripping and falling increase and the chances of receiving a life altering injury go up exponentially. Please also do an inventory of your own home to determine what you can do to make it safer for those that live there and/or visit you. Autumn is a great time to do this inspection so you can get ready for the colder, more treacherous months.
Please watch out for each other and be careful!