Category Archives: Fall Prevention

Fall Prevention Awareness Day

FallsFree-200wToday is Fall Prevention Awareness Day. It is estimated that in the United States one third of seniors over the age of 65 and one half of seniors over the age of 80 will fall each year, resulting in medical costs exceeding $27 billion annually. Most falls are preventable so it’s important that caregivers and family members work with the elderly in their lives to ensure their home and surroundings are as save as possible. In an article called Seven Ways to Prevent Falls In the Home, we provided steps you can take to reduce the risk of a fall.

With autumn approaching at a fast pace, examine your home and those of the elderly to identify hazards. Consider risk factors such as poor eyesight, prior injuries that may cause walking problems, physical activity levels and other hazards.  As Baby Boomers age, the impact of a fall creates greater financial and emotional burdens. Education, examination and awareness is key to helping reduce the impact of falls and related injuries.

Download this Home Safety Checklist to help you identify fall hazards and accessibility issues.  Take the time today, or this week, to ensure your loved one’s safety!

Seven Ways To Prevent Falls In The Home

You may feel safe at home, but trip and fall accidents in the home account for the major reasons that individuals aged 65 and older wind up in the emergency room. There are an estimated 2.3 million falls each year in the home and because of this, it’s important – especially if you’re determined to age in place – that your home is as free of these hazards as possible.

Here are seven steps you can take to ensure your home is as safe as it can be and it all beings with looking at the home with an eye toward safety:

  1. Check the stairs for trip and fall hazards. These hazards could be slippery steps, uneven stair rises, loose railings, loose carpeting or objects left on the stairs.
  2. Make certain the bathroom is well-lit, install a motion sensor light for night time bathroom trips. Using motion sensor lights in dark hallways or staircases is also a great idea to amp up the safety in the home.
  3. Pick up household clutter. This clutter could range from stacks of books or magazines to stray shoes or other objects that impede movement from one room or location to another. If you have visitors or grandchildren over to visit, check that all toys and other objects are back in their prior locations.
  4. Resist the urge to climb ladders or use footstools to reach objects on high shelves. If you have items that you use on a regular basis, move them to lower shelves or cupboards to prevent your having to climb to get them.
  5. If you have pets in the house, make sure you know where they are because they have a habit of getting underfoot and can inadvertently cause you to trip.
  6. Get in the habit of carrying a cell phone or cordless phone with you at all times. The reason for this is, if the phone rings and you’re not close to it, you may rush to answer it and not pay attention to items that could cause a trip or fall. If you live alone or have health or mobility problems, it’s wise to wear your medical alert device, no matter where you are in the house or when you’re out in the yard. Being able to push a button to summon help in the event of a medical emergency is much easier and more quickly accomplished than fumbling with a telephone.
  7. The footwear you don when you get up in the morning also has an impact on your overall safety. Wearing socks or other footwear that doesn’t provide a non skid surface is dangerous, especially if you have hardwood or linoleum floors. Conversely, don’t want to wear shoes with thick, rigid soles as that will give you too firm a “grip” on the floor and could lead to a trip or fall.

As you age, you need to look at your home with an eye toward making changes that will keep you safe and that may mean asking your family and friends for help and advice on upgrades to the home or simply a thorough clean up. Don’t forget to add safety amenities such as grab bars in the showers or a bathtub that allows you to simply open a door and step in rather than stepping over a ledge, if that isn’t an option you want to make certain the tub floor has not slip decals. Adapting your home to your changing needs and level of mobility and using an in home medical alert device could extend the amount of time you can age in place.

Seven Ways To Prevent Falls In The Home

You may feel safe at home, but trip and fall accidents in the home account for the major reasons that individuals aged 65 and older wind up in the emergency room. There are an estimated 2.3 million falls each year in the home and because of this, it’s important – especially if you’re determined to age in place – that your home is as free of these hazards as possible.

Here are seven steps you can take to ensure your home is as safe as it can be and it all beings with looking at the home with an eye toward safety:

  1. Check the stairs for trip and fall hazards. These hazards could be slippery steps, uneven stair rises, loose railings, loose carpeting or objects left on the stairs.
  2. Make certain the bathroom is well-lit, install a motion sensor light for night time bathroom trips. Using motion sensor lights in dark hallways or staircases is also a great idea to amp up the safety in the home.
  3. Pick up household clutter. This clutter could range from stacks of books or magazines to stray shoes or other objects that impede movement from one room or location to another. If you have visitors or grandchildren over to visit, check that all toys and other objects are back in their prior locations.
  4. Resist the urge to climb ladders or use footstools to reach objects on high shelves. If you have items that you use on a regular basis, move them to lower shelves or cupboards to prevent your having to climb to get them.
  5. If you have pets in the house, make sure you know where they are because they have a habit of getting underfoot and can inadvertently cause you to trip.
  6. Get in the habit of carrying a cell phone or cordless phone with you at all times. The reason for this is, if the phone rings and you’re not close to it, you may rush to answer it and not pay attention to items that could cause a trip or fall. If you live alone or have health or mobility problems, it’s wise to wear your medical alert device, no matter where you are in the house or when you’re out in the yard. Being able to push a button to summon help in the event of a medical emergency is much easier and more quickly accomplished than fumbling with a telephone.
  7. The footwear you don when you get up in the morning also has an impact on your overall safety. Wearing socks or other footwear that doesn’t provide a non skid surface is dangerous, especially if you have hardwood or linoleum floors. Conversely, don’t want to wear shoes with thick, rigid soles as that will give you too firm a “grip” on the floor and could lead to a trip or fall.

As you age, you need to look at your home with an eye toward making changes that will keep you safe and that may mean asking your family and friends for help and advice on upgrades to the home or simply a thorough clean up. Don’t forget to add safety amenities such as grab bars in the showers or a bathtub that allows you to simply open a door and step in rather than stepping over a ledge, if that isn’t an option you want to make certain the tub floor has not slip decals. Adapting your home to your changing needs and level of mobility and using an in home medical alert device could extend the amount of time you can age in place.

Health Tips For Preventing Falls In The Elderly

Because falls are the number one cause of injury-related deaths in the elderly, it is crucial that steps are taken to prevent both falls and the health issues that could lead to a fall. It’s also estimated that close to three million people, aged 65 and older, are treated in the emergency room for falls annually.

Death rates from falls in the elderly rose more than 55% between 1993 and 2003 and that could be because people are living longer, living alone, and are more frail, all factors which increase the likelihood of falls. One of the main reasons cited for admission into nursing homes or assisted living facilities is because of a fall.

As a caregiver, it’s crucial that you remain cognizant of the most common reasons the elderly suffer a fall, they are:

  • Medications that can cause disorientation, sleepiness or sleeplessness and dizziness
  • Visual impairment caused  by cataracts or glaucoma
  • Cognitive impairments caused by either Alzheimer’s or dementia
  • Balance issues which could be caused by mobility issues, loss of muscle strength or diminished      flexibility
  • Blood sugar or blood pressure issues that could lead to dizziness upon standing

If your relatives are determined to remain independent and age in place, there are steps they can take, and you can help them with, to make that a possibility. Here are some steps you can take to help them avoid a fall and help maintain a stronger body:

  • Eating a balanced diet and drinking milk or getting calcium or Vitamin D from the foods they eat will help keep their bones strong.
  • Bone-strength building exercises such as walking, dancing, aerobic exercise or resistance training helps build both bone and muscle strength. You should check with their physician first to see if they are healthy enough to undertake an exercise routine. Even if your elderly relatives use a walker or a cane they can still become more active simply by getting up and moving every hour.
  • Balance can be improved by practicing yoga and daily stretches
  • Annual hearing and vision exams will detect any issues before they cause a trip or fall accident.
  • Ask the pharmacist whether any of the medications they take can cause any dizziness issues, especially when used in combination with each other.
  • Avoid using alcohol as it can interact with medications and add to drowsiness or dizziness

As part of your elderly relatives aging in place, make certain the home has been age-proofed to prevent trips or falls. Here are some measures to take:

  • Make certain hallways and closets are well lit. Install motion sensor lights with timers that will turn on and off upon entering or leaving a room.
  • Keep all walkways clear of clutter and power cords
  • All rugs should be secured to the floor with non-slip tape
  • A lamp should be next to the bed where it can be easily reached during the night. A touch lamp is a great option and prevents having to fumble around in the dark to find the switch.
  • All stairways should be in good repair and should have non skid treads on them.
  • Handrails should be installed on all stairways and even next to the toilet.
  • Grab bars should be installed in the shower and bathtub.
  • The bathroom should also have non skid rubber floor mats to prevent stepping onto a wet floor.
  • Put items that you use regularly within easy reach. Waist height is ideal placement for items in the kitchen and bathroom.

Helping your elderly relatives age-in-place if a gift for all family members. You can also help your relatives remain independent by offering them a home medical alert device. These devices can be a literal lifesaver in the event of a trip or fall or other health emergency.

Life After A Fall

 

At a certain point in life, if we are fortunate enough to reach senior-citizen status, we all must come to the stark realization that falls are a part of aging. With over 33 percent of people past the age of 65 suffering from falls each year, there have been numerous articles written on how to ensure an elderly’s home environment is as risk-adverse as possible, including senior-proofing the bathroom. Yet one of the oft-overlooked aspects of falling includes how the experience affects both the individual physically and psychologically, and how these two aspects play into their quality of life.

The Physical Toll of a Fall

Falls among seniors are dangerous business and are the most common injury seniors sustain. One-third of seniors who fall suffer from fractures or muscle damage and approximately 40 percent of seniors end up hospitalized due to a hip fracture. Falls can also lead to blood clots and pneumonia if the individual lies on the ground for an extended period of time. In order to ensure your loved one does not have to undergo additional unnecessary pain after a fall, it is important to invest in a medical alert system. LifeFone gives you and your loved one the reassurance that if something were to happen, medical assistance would be available at the touch of a button.

The Psychological Toll of a Fall

After experiencing a fall, it is common for seniors to be more cautious in completing their daily activities. The fear of falling can also lead seniors to limit their activities or abstain from completing certain tasks altogether. Putting restrictions on oneself can be the most harmful thing an individual can do. The less your loved one moves, the less strength and flexibility he or she will possess. Staying active will keep their body fully-functioning.

If your loved one is experiencing fear-induced symptoms following a fall, have a health professional discuss the fall’s effects with them. The elderly can also meet with a physiotherapist to go over rehabilitation exercises that may make them feel more confident in their physical abilities.

After experiencing a fall for the first time, older individuals often feel as though their independence is slipping away. This realization can be a very hard pill to swallow. It is important to remind your loved one that a fall does not necessarily close the chapter on their former lifestyle. Helping to set them back on the path to physical and psychological recovery will enable them to move past the devastating experience and return to a healthy and happy lifestyle.

Life After a Fall

One of the biggest reassurances you can give your loved one is a medical alert system. Knowing that backup will be immediately available if emergency strikes again will allow them to feel more confident in resuming their way of life. Wearing a medical alert pendant around their wrist or hanging from their neck will give them an extra feeling of protection. With LifeFone’s professional help available 24/7, you will be able to rest a little easier as well

 

Hints & Tips To Senior-Proof A Home

Serious injuries as the result of trips or falls are suffered by one in three adults over the age of 65 and many of these happen in the home. These falls can lead to broken bones and other injuries such as head trauma and even death.

Senior-proofing the home for items such as trip and fall hazards should be a matter of course for your aging relatives if they’d like to continue aging in place. Look for loose or slippery carpets and bathroom hazards. There are other items that need to be addressed as well.

Here are some items to consider if your parents want to continue living independently:

  1. Limit alcohol intake as this can lead to balance issues and cause a fall in addition to other health issues and potentially dangerous interactions with their medications.
  2. Have a full physical: Many falls could be prevented if your relatives have a full medical work up to address any issues that could lead to slip and fall accidents. Diabetes which has inherent poor circulation problems, low blood pressure and ear infections can also throw their balance off and lead to falls.
  3. Clean the medicine cabinet and track all medications. Clear out old prescriptions and outdated medications – over-the-counter and prescriptions. Make certain your relatives are taking the medications as prescribed and in the proper dosages. If the prescriptions are from different doctors, check with one of them or the pharmacist to make certain there is no risk of interaction.
  4. Stay fit and active: If your parents aren’t getting any exercise, they will lose muscle strength and tone and this will make it harder to walk and maintain their balance. The Centers for Disease Control recommend 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week for those aged 65 and older. This means walking at a brisk pace, undertaking some aerobic activity such as swimming or a senior exercise class or bicycling. If your aging parent has health conditions that make it impossible to do this, ask a physical therapist to recommend some stretching exercises to help keep them in shape.
  5. Get their eyes checked: An annual eye exam is a must and eyeglass adjustments if necessary. An eye exam will catch any vision issues and proper eyeglass prescriptions will help to prevent falls if they have clear vision.
  6. Eat healthy meals: Cooking may become less of a priority as you age but getting adequate nutrients and vitamins are essential to good health. Additionally, ask whether they should be taking any supplements to address bone health issues or other vitamin deficiencies.
  7. Use a cane or walker: If your aging relatives are suffering from balance issues have them fitted for a cane or a walker. This will help them be mobile, but take care that they purchase a cane that is specifically suited to their height as one that is too short or too tall can lead to a trip or fall.

Even with all of the above steps implemented, you may still want to take it one step further and sign your parents up for a home medical alert system. With these devices, your parents will wear a medical emergency alert pendant; if they suffer a fall or other health emergency, all they need to do is push the button, a call is made to the home and if no answer is received, emergency medical personnel are dispatched.

Hints & Tips To Senior-Proof A Home

Serious injuries as the result of trips or falls are suffered by one in three adults over the age of 65 and many of these happen in the home. These falls can lead to broken bones and other injuries such as head trauma and even death.

Senior-proofing the home for items such as trip and fall hazards should be a matter of course for your aging relatives if they’d like to continue aging in place. Look for loose or slippery carpets and bathroom hazards. There are other items that need to be addressed as well.

Here are some items to consider if your parents want to continue living independently:

  1. Limit alcohol intake as this can lead to balance issues and cause a fall in addition to other health issues and potentially dangerous interactions with their medications.
  2. Have a full physical: Many falls could be prevented if your relatives have a full medical work up to address any issues that could lead to slip and fall accidents. Diabetes which has inherent poor circulation problems, low blood pressure and ear infections can also throw their balance off and lead to falls.
  3. Clean the medicine cabinet and track all medications. Clear out old prescriptions and outdated medications – over-the-counter and prescriptions. Make certain your relatives are taking the medications as prescribed and in the proper dosages. If the prescriptions are from different doctors, check with one of them or the pharmacist to make certain there is no risk of interaction.
  4. Stay fit and active: If your parents aren’t getting any exercise, they will lose muscle strength and tone and this will make it harder to walk and maintain their balance. The Centers for Disease Control recommend 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week for those aged 65 and older. This means walking at a brisk pace, undertaking some aerobic activity such as swimming or a senior exercise class or bicycling. If your aging parent has health conditions that make it impossible to do this, ask a physical therapist to recommend some stretching exercises to help keep them in shape.
  5. Get their eyes checked: An annual eye exam is a must and eyeglass adjustments if necessary. An eye exam will catch any vision issues and proper eyeglass prescriptions will help to prevent falls if they have clear vision.
  6. Eat healthy meals: Cooking may become less of a priority as you age but getting adequate nutrients and vitamins are essential to good health. Additionally, ask whether they should be taking any supplements to address bone health issues or other vitamin deficiencies.
  7. Use a cane or walker: If your aging relatives are suffering from balance issues have them fitted for a cane or a walker. This will help them be mobile, but take care that they purchase a cane that is specifically suited to their height as one that is too short or too tall can lead to a trip or fall.

Even with all of the above steps implemented, you may still want to take it one step further and sign your parents up for a home medical alert system. With these devices, your parents will wear a medical emergency alert pendant; if they suffer a fall or other health emergency, all they need to do is push the button, a call is made to the home and if no answer is received, emergency medical personnel are dispatched.

Screening Measures to Prevent Falls

It is widely known that falls are the leading cause of injury among the elderly in the U.S. with the number of falls and the severity of injury increasing with each additional year of a senior’s life. What is not so widely known is that certain people are at a higher risk for accidental falls and should be regularly screened to help reduce the high number of fall-related injuries and deaths in the U.S., according to the American Academy of Neurology.

Although falls do not discriminate and can occur at any time, to anyone, at any place, people who have dementia, walking and balance disorders, or have had a stroke have the greatest risk of falling. If your loved one has fallen within the past year, it is very likely he or she will fall again. People with Parkinson’s disease, peripheral neuropathy, weak legs or feet, and vision loss are also at an increased risk for falling.

In order to better prevent falls from occurring, the American Academy of Neurology recommends that doctors routinely ask patients about falls and administer screening measures and mobility tests to assess whether an individual is at a higher risk of falling. Preventative measures can include beginning a regular exercise regimen and eliminating fall hazards from the home. Read more about safety-proofing your home for seniors .

According to the AAN, there is a lack of awareness among doctors and patients in recognizing and preventing falls. The elderly are often hesitant about discussing falls with their doctor for fear they may have to relocate out of their home and into a care facility. Therefore it is important for caregivers to have their care recipients address any falls they have experienced with their doctor during medical screenings.

In addition to having the doctor examine your loved one, there are numerous health tips they can take into account in order to lessen their risk of falling which include:

  • Getting an annual physical and eye examination, particularly evaluating for cardiac and blood pressure problems
  • Maintaining a diet with adequate dietary calcium and vitamin D
  • Avoiding cigarettes and excessive alcohol intake

With more than11 million seniors suffering from falls each year, treatment associated with seniors falling in the U.S. is at more than $20 billion annually. Help your loved one avoid becoming a statistic by having his or her doctor properly screen for falls and taking preventative measures to lessen the risk.

 

43 States Celebrate 4th Annual National Falls Prevention Awareness Day

Events planned nationwide to help older adults reduce their risk of falling

WASHINGTON, Sept. 13, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Sept. 23 is the first day of Fall, and it’s also a day when passionate people across the country will observe the 4th annual NationalFalls Prevention Awareness Day,through educational presentations, risk screening activities, and other outreach strategies, to get the message out that most falls are preventable for older adults.

Forty-three states will participate in Falls Prevention Awareness Day this year, joining 70 national organizations, professional associations, and federal agencies that comprise the Falls Free© Initiative to raise awareness of this major public health issue that affects one out of every three seniors every year. But more importantly, they are working collaboratively to bring attention to common sense strategies to reduce the risk of falling, such as:

  • Engage in a physical activity regimen that includes balance, strength training, and flexibility components.
  • Consult with a health professional about getting a falls risk assessment.
  • Have their medications reviewed periodically.
  • Get their eyes checked annually.
  • Make sure the home environment is safe and supportive.

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Fall Prevention Awareness Week

Falls among the elderly is a serious problem and growing!  One out of three people over the age of 65 falls at least once a year.  According to theCDC, the direct and indirect cost of injuries from falls is expected to reach $54.9 billion by 2020!  Fall awareness and prevention becomes ever more important as our population ages.

Thankfully, many falls and fall related injuries can be prevented.  In an article called Making Your Home Safe for Seniors, we provided steps you can take to reduce the risk of a fall.

Fall Prevention Awareness Week is September 18 – 24, 2011 with many states taking part.  Fall Prevention Awareness Day, Friday, September 23 is an opportunity to become involved in your local area activities.  While activities vary by location, they include educational programs and home safety checks.

With autumn approaching at a fast pace, examine your home and those of the elderly to identify hazards. Consider risk factors such as poor eyesight, prior injuries that may cause walking problems, physical activity levels and other hazards.  As Baby Boomers age, the impact of a fall creates greater financial and emotional burdens. Education, examination and awareness is key to helping reduce the impact of falls and related injuries.