Fall Prevention – Saving Thousands of Older Adults from Injuries

Kelly Cahill, Community Nurse Educator, wants to help keep you safe from falls, which result in injuries for hundreds of thousands of older adults each year. Get her tips for safeguarding your home and other ways to keep you safe.

Hello, my name is Kelly Cahill and I’m a Community Nurse Educator at Lower Cape Fear LifeCare. Did you know that June is National Safety Month? Well, it is. And on that note, I’d like to take a couple of minutes and talk to you about fall safety and prevention.

Did you know that falls are the leading cause of injury in adults over the age of 65? One out of every three elderly people will fall each year. And, falling once doubles your chances of falling again. One in five falls causes a serious injury. Such as broken bones, whether it be a wrist, and arm, an ankle, or a hip.

Also, falls can cause serious head injuries. If somebody falls and hits their head, it’s always recommended that they see a physician to get checked out so that they can rule out whether you have a concussion or serious head injury. Especially if you are on any type of blood thinner medication.

Each year, about 250,000 older adults in America will be hospitalized for a hip fracture. And, about 95 percent of hip fractures happen because somebody falls sideways.

So, what can happen after a fall? We talked about broken bones, and we talked about head injuries. But many people who experience a fall become even more afraid of falling again. This fear may cause them to refrain from doing activities they normally enjoy. But, in actuality, the less activity that the person does the higher the risk of falling again because of lower leg weakness.

What are some conditions that make you more likely to fall? Well, like you said lower body weakness – difficulty walking. Maybe there’s some foot problems such as ingrown toenails, plantar fascia, hammertoes, bunions that can cause pain in the feet – someone standing up quickly or starting to walk could be at a higher risk of falling. Changes in medication, changes in doses in medications. They can lower your blood pressure and it can cause dizziness when standing up.

People who have uneven steps in their homes or out on the porch or in their yard. People who have scatter rugs on top of rugs, and they are a little bit wrinkled or a little bit crinkled. That can also make it a high risk of falling in your home.

Substandard lighting – maybe in the evening you don’t have that nightlight on in the bathroom and you stumble trying to find where the bathroom is when you get up. Also, people who have to use the bathroom quickly and get up too fast may fall.

So, what are some ways to prevent some of these falls? Well, first and foremost, practice strength and balance exercises. When you’re sitting in your recliner chair, do some leg lifts at every commercial. Maybe five leg lifts on each leg, at every commercial. That keeps those thigh muscles going and keeps them nice and strong.

Eliminating clutter from the floor, such as excessive shoes all around, magazines, books, and maybe pet bowls or planters that are placed on the floor. Add a grab bar to the bathroom tub area, shower area, or where the toilet is. Wear shoes and slippers that are comfortable but not too loose. Maybe a Velcro type shoe is better to keep them on firmly.

Avoid climbing to a higher height, especially in your kitchen. Don’t use a step stool or ladder when you’re all alone. Wait for those grandchildren or children to come and help you with those things that you need to reach.

Those are just a couple of tips that will help you feel a little bit safer and keep you from falling in the home or outside of the house.

On our website, lifecare.org, you can look at this beautiful tip sheet that Lower Cape Fear LifeCare has developed.

Click here to get our Fall Prevention Tip Sheet.

We offer continuing education classes out in the community for 30 or 60 minutes, and we do provide contact hours for healthcare professionals.

This tip sheet can be accessed and it shows you all the rooms in the home and how to stay safe. And, also, different things that you can do to make your home safer and prevent future falls.

So, on that note, happy June to you. Stay safe. Try not to fall. and use all the tools that we’ve given you to stay safe. Bye-bye and have a great day!