Falls top list of fatal in-home accidents for seniors

Date Published: 
May 20, 2011

Falls are the single largest cause of injury among seniors, and top the list of in-home accidental fatalities. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, offers the following statistics:

“Older adults are hospitalized for fall-related injuries five times more often than they are for injuries from other causes. A third of older adults who fall, sustain a hip fracture and are hospitalized, die within a year.”

Even if a fall does not result in hospitalization, fear of falling can become a major factor in seniors’ quality of life, according to David Forman of Visiting Angels of Sussex, a senior home care company serving Sussex County, as fear leads to inactivity and loss of confidence, which in turn produces a cycle of fear, loss of self-confidence and greater inactivity.

“Tripping and falling is nearly always preventable,” said Annalise Forman, director of Visiting Angels. “As seniors, or caregivers to seniors, prevention should be a top priority.”

“Medication side effects and drug interactions should be completely understood, and may require consistent monitoring and reminding,” said Annalise Forman. “The majority of medications for seniors may have some affect on alertness and, or blood pressure, which can lead to loss of balance. Ask both your physician and pharmacist!”

“Mobility and agility limitations also require a fresh look at the everyday contents of the home,” she added, offering some tips to help minimize the risk of life-altering falls for loved ones:

· Understand medication side affects and interactions, and post warnings clearly in your home where you keep your medicine.

· When adding or switching drugs, or adjusting dosage for the first time, keep physical activity to a minimum. It’s better to wait an hour, watching television or reading a book, than sweeping or climbing stairs.

· Throw rugs can be a tripping hazard. Either remove them or make sure they are securely tacked down.

· Add hand-rails to all stairs.

· Clear clutter from walking paths, and make sure hallways and stairways are well lit.

· Eliminate long extension cords that snake across a room. Plug lamps into outlets near the wall so cords are tucked away.

· Add grab bars next to the toilet, tub and shower.

· Getting in and out of the tub can be hazardous. In addition to grab bars, make sure the tub has non-skid mats. A tub seat may make showering easier, too.

· Trade in floppy slippers for well-fitting slippers with non-skid soles.

· Avoid night clothing that drags on the ground.

The experts at Visiting Angels can help check for hazards in the home and address the issues that are important to a family. They offer non-medical, in-home help for seniors and disabled adults. Caregivers can prepare meals, assist with hygiene, do light housework, run errands or take clients to appointments, shopping or just for a stroll.

Caregivers are available from a few hours to 24/7 care. For more information, call Annalise Forman at (302) 329-9475.