Remember when you were a kid, riding your bike down the street, chasing after a fly ball, or trying to make it to the door so you wouldn’t be the “rotten egg?” How many times did trip over your laces or stumble on an unseen rock? If you’re anything like my kids, it happened quite a bit. Chances are, though, that you got right back up and kept going as though nothing was wrong. Unfortunately, many older adults also experience falls, and the consequences are generally much more severe.
It is estimated that one out of four adults over the age of sixty-five in the US will experience a fall each year, with the risk increasing further with age. Over half of seniors’ injury related hospitalizations stem from falls. Falls can break limbs, fracture hips, and cause major head trauma. Falls lead to longer than average hospital stays and can require significant rehabilitation. Falls can even be fatal. Forty percent of injury related fatalities worldwide start with falls. Even when they aren’t deadly, falls can lead to confusion, immobilization, depression, and/or dependence. And, having fallen once, the risk for another incident only increases.
It is no surprise, then, that preventing falls in the first place is one of the top concerns of the aging community and their caregivers. While some risk factors are simply beyond our control, there are steps that you can take to reduce the risk of falling. Some of these tips are simple things that you and your family can implement yourselves. Others may require the help of a professional. Remember, too, that this is a generic guide meant to provide some general, actionable steps that most families can apply to their situation. However, general advice is never a substitute for professional consultation. If you or your loved ones are especially concerned about falls, it is strongly recommended that you contact a trained professional for a personal evaluation. That said, here are a few basic tips to get you started.
National Council On Aging Falls Prevention: https://www.ncoa.org/healthy-aging/falls-prevention/
Mayo Clinic Fall Prevention Guide: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/healthy-aging/in-depth/fall-prevention/art-20047358
Fall Prevention Center Of Excellence: http://stopfalls.org/
World Health Organization Falls Prevention in Older Age: http://www.who.int/ageing/projects/falls_prevention_older_age/en/
Most of these steps are things that you and your loved ones can start implementing today. It’s never too early to prepare for old age. No one ever complained that they were “too safe” or “too healthy.” Even if you don’t currently have any mobility challenges, there is a good chance that you will someday in the future, especially with today’s longer life expectancy. Start developing the habits and lifestyle that will keep you healthy well into retirement right now.
There are some items in this list that are not practical for the average person to do on their own. Home modifications, for example, should always be performed by a certified professional who is familiar with the work being done. Medical or mobility device installations are the same. If a chair lift or balance rail is installed incorrectly, you may actually be less safe than you were without it. Professionals can also identify risks and issues that you might not notice on your own. Having a pro evaluate your home can help you make the most impactful improvements for the least investment of time and money.
Aging in the Comfort of Home® has a comprehensive program for seniors and family members who want to stay as safe as possible. Our C-EASY evaluation program will help you identify key issues in the home, as well as solutions to overcome those issues. The evaluation is free and there is no obligation. If you do decide to implement the solutions they recommend, Aging in the Comfort of Home® will handle every aspect, from design to installation to ongoing maintenance. This is very important with aging modifications; if they aren’t maintained, they no longer serve their purpose.
Whether you are reaching the age where you are starting to worry about falling at home, or are caring for an aging loved one, or even just planning for your own old age when it arrives, planning and acting now will save you money, time, and possibly even a hospital visit later on. As more and more of our population reaches retirement, safety issues like this will only become more important. Innovative companies like Aging in the Comfort of Home® are now spearheading the movement to prepare not just individuals but our society for the coming population shift. Most of us want to enjoy our golden years in the comfort of the home we spent our life building. Now, we may be able to do that longer than ever before.