Falls Can Be Serious and Costly
Neighborhood Safe Neighborhood #11
by Staff Neighborhood Safety Reporter
According to the CDC:
__ One out of five falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones or a head injury.
__ Each year, 3 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries.
__ Over 800,000 patients a year are hospitalized because of a fall injury, most often because of a head injury or hip fracture.
__ Each year at least 300,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures.
__ More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling, usually by falling sideways.
__ Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
In 2015, the total medical costs for falls totaled more than $50 billion. Medicare and Medicaid shouldered 75% of these costs.
Walk through your home, room-by-room, and ask yourself if the following hazards can be found. Try to eliminate the risk of falling for you, your family or guests:
__ When I walk through a room, do I have to walk around furniture?
Move the furniture so my path is clear.
__ Do I have throw rugs on the floor?
Remove the rugs or use double- sided tape or a non-slip backing so the rugs won’t slip.
__ Are there papers, books, towels, shoes, magazines, boxes, blankets, or other objects on the floor?
Pick them up; always keep objects off the floor.
__ Do I have to walk over or around wires or cords (like lamp, telephone, or extension cords)?
Coil or tape cords and wires next to the wall so I can’t trip over them. If needed, have an electrician put in another outlet
STAIRS AND STEPS: (inside and outside your home)
__ Do things collect on the stairs?
Always keep the stairs clear.
__ Are some steps broken or uneven? Are my stairs free from holes, cracks or splinters?
Make needed repairs before someone falls.
__ Is there a light over the stairway?
Have an electrician put in an over- head light at the top and bottom of the stairs.
__ Do I have only one light switch for my stairs (only at the top or at the bottom of the stairs)?
__ Have an electrician put in a light switch at the top and bottom of the stairs. Consider getting light switches that glow.
__ Has the stairway light bulb burned out?
Have a friend or family member change the light bulb.
__ Is the carpet on the steps loose or torn?
Make sure the carpet is firmly attached to every step, or remove the carpet and attach non-slip rubber treads to the stairs.
__ Is the handrail loose or broken?
Fix a loose handrail, or add a 2nd one on the other side. Make sure handrail is as long as the staircase.
__ Is the tub or shower floor slippery?
Put a non-slip rubber mat or self- stick strips on the floor of the tub or shower.
__ Do I need some support when I get in and out of the tub or up from the toilet?
Have grab bars put in next to and inside the tub and next to the toilet.
__ Can bathroom doors be unlocked from the outside, in case of an emergency?
__ Are stove tops and countertops free of combustibles and clutter?
__ Are the things I use often on high shelves?
Move items in your cabinets. Keep things you use often on the lower shelves (about waist level).
__ Is my step stool unsteady?
If you must use a step stool, get one with a bar to hold on to. Never use a chair as a step stool.
__ Do I wipe up spills as soon as they happen so no one will slip?
__ Can I turn on a light without having to walk into a dark room?
If you are WiFi savvy, you can buy ‘Smart Plugs” and control your plug in lamps, etc with voice commands, like Siri and Alexa.
__ Is the light near the bed hard to reach?
Place a lamp close to the bed where it’s easy to reach, but away from drapes or other flammable materials. Keep a flashlight handy in case of a power outage, or if a lightbulb burns out; check batteries periodically.
__ Is the path from my bed to the bathroom dark?
Plug in a night-light so you can see where you’re walking, including hallways. Some night-lights go on by themselves after dark. Use cool or LED lights that do not get hot.
__ Is the path from my bed to the bathroom clear and clutter-free?
__ Is there a phone by the bedside?
__ Can bedroom doors be unlocked from the outside, in case of an emergency?
__ Does the height of the bed allow me to comfortably get in an out of bed?
Below are some guidelines on what to do if an elderly person falls, or how to get up if you have fallen.
AND FINALLY, keep a well-stocked first aid kit that is easily available. Include a list of emergency contact phone numbers.