According to the National Council on Aging, about one-third of the senior population over the age of 65 falls each year, but since many incidents go unreported by seniors and unrecognized by family members or caregivers – the number of falls is statistically higher.
Falls are the leading cause of death from injury among people 65 and older, and the risk of falls increases proportionately with age. At 80 years, over half of seniors fall annually.
There are things seniors can do to help prevent falling. And Parker County Committee on Aging is here to help. We have partnered with one of the most reputable companies in the U.S. to provide Parker County seniors, as well as seniors in surrounding counties in North Texas, with a medical alert system that notifies 911, and family members in the event of a fall.
See our short video on the medical alert monitoring system we offer. When you are ready for fall protection or if you need more information call 817-382-4980
Here are some more surprising facts and statistics related to falling:
- 87% of all fractures in the elderly are due to falls. Two-thirds of those who fall will do so again within six months.
- When an older person falls, his or her hospital stays are almost twice as long as those of older patients who are admitted for any other reason.
- Among people aged 65 to 69, one out of every 200 falls results in a hip fracture. That number increases to one out of every 10 for those aged 85 and older.
- ¼ of seniors who fracture a hip from a fall will die within 6 months of the injury.
- Many falls do not result in injuries, yet 47% of non-injured seniors who fall cannot get up without assistance.
- For seniors who fall and are unable to get up on their own, the period of time spent immobile often affects their health outcomes. Muscle cell breakdown starts to occur within 30-60 minutes of compression due to falling. Dehydration, pressure sores, hypothermia, and pneumonia are other complications that may result.
Falls, whether with or without injury also carry a heavy quality of life impact. A growing number of older adults have a fear of falling and, as a result, limit their activities and social engagements. This can result in further physical decline, depression, social isolation, and feelings of helplessness. The most profound effect of falling is the loss of independent living.
However, there are things seniors can do to minimize falling, and continue to live an active lifestyle, in the comfort of their own homes.
Fall Prevention Safety: 20 Things You Can Do to Help
- Remove obstacles inside and outside of the house that could cause tripping.
- Install handrails and lights on staircases, with light switches at the top and bottom of the stairs. You may even consider glow-in-the-dark or lighted switches.
- Add non-slip treads for bare wooden steps.
- Install shower and tub grab bars in the bathroom, around the toilet and the tub.
- Place non-slip mats on the shower floor and bathtub.
- Secure loose rugs with double-faced tape, tacks, or slip-resistant backing.
- Repair loose, wooden floorboards, and carpeting.
- Store clothing, dishes, food and other necessities within easy reach.
- Immediately clean spilled liquids, grease, or food.
- Paint doorsills with a different, highlighting color to avoid tripping.
- Make home lighting brighter, but prevent glare. Place night lights in the bedroom, bathroom, and hallways. Place a lamp within reach of the bed for middle-of-the-night needs.
- Store working flashlights in easy-to-find places in case of power outages.
- Have vision checked often and regularly.
- Ask the doctor to review medications regularly for side effects and interactions.
- If he or she is able, have the senior start exercising on a regular basis? tai chi or yoga can increase flexibility and strengthen muscles and joints.
- If the senior can’t stand comfortably, have him or her exercise in a chair.
- Have the senior wear sensible shoes. They should be properly fitting, sturdy shoes with nonskid soles.
- Note any health conditions such as dizziness, joint pain, numbness, or shortness of breath when walking. Tell the doctor, should any of these occur. He or she may evaluate muscle strength, balance and walking style (gait) as well.
- Have the senior use assistive devices, if needed. The doctor might recommend using a cane or walker to keep him or her steady.
Consider a PERS (Personal Emergency Response System) unit that will alert others when help is needed. We believe this step should be the first step in preventative measures and assisting seniors with potential injury from falling.