While their younger fellow citizens may fear car crashes and Ebola outbreaks, many American seniors worry about a simpler cause of death: falling down. And their dread is not unfounded—recent studies have shown that falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for the elderly. The number of reported injuries has only increased as the American population ages. Common outcomes include lacerations, fractures, head trauma, and – of course – death.
How to Reduce Chances of Falling
Fortunately, there are many simple ways to prevent falls among seniors, whether they live in a private residence or assisted living facility. Here are some key steps to take to reduce the chances of falling:
Attend regular exercise classes. Special senior exercise classes offered at local community centers and nursing homes can improve balance, strength, and agility. Effective exercise routines include climbing stairs, working with Bosu balls, and Tai Chi movements.
Schedule routine checkups . Regular examinations are essential, including eye tests, cardiac exams, and blood pressure evaluations. Be sure to talk to your doctor about your medications—many sedatives and antidepressants can severely impact balance, while blood pressure and sleep medications can cause dizziness.
Wear appropriate shoes. Slippers, stocking feet, heels, and shoes with untied laces are all potential hazards. Forgo such footwear in favor of well-fitted shoes with nonskid soles.
Fall-proof homes and living facilities. Effective methods for fall-proofing homes include:
- Removing tripping hazards such as throw rugs, low-rise furniture, and electrical chords
- Installing handrails along stairs and hallways
- Ensuring stairs and walkways are well lit
- Fitting grab bars around bathtubs and over toilets
- Equipping tubs and showers with a sturdy plastic seat to use when bathing
- Covering bathtub and shower floors with anti-slip matts
- Fixing loose floorboards, tiles, and carpeting
- Replacing any broken equipment, such as walkers and stair lifts
- Installing medical alert systems in danger-areas like bathrooms, such as emergency call devices or alarm buttons
What to Do If You or a Loved One Falls
If you do fall, it’s imperative to keep calm. Take a few moments to decide whether you are able to stand, because trying to stand after sustaining serious injury can result in further damage. If you believe you can, use a sturdy object such as a couch or armchair to lift yourself up. After successfully standing, cautiously find a secure place to sit. If you can’t stand, yell for help. Use a telephone or medical alert system if no one is within hearing range. While awaiting assistance, try to keep moving your joints to recover circulation.
Call for help by dialing 911 if you witness someone falling. While the two of you await aid, assist them in finding a relaxed position while trying to comfort them and keep them calm. If they are able to stand, you can help by bringing a chair over and guiding them as they use it to pull themselves up.
Regardless of the circumstances, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately after a fall.
Suffering a fall-related injury is a frightening ordeal, whether it is experienced by you or by someone you love. If you or someone you care about has fallen due to negligent care, malfunctioning equipment, or a hazardous environment, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact a personal injury lawyer to learn about you and your family’s legal right to monetary reparation, which can cover medical expenses and costs related to recovery.
About the Author:
Ben Murphey is a personal injury lawyer and a partner at the firm of Lawlor Winston White & Murphey. Mr. Murphey has 10.0 Superb AVVO rating, was named Top 1% of Car Accident Attorneys by Car Accident Lawyer, and was named a Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers in 2014. Mr. Murphey is based in South Florida but represents people and businesses across the state who have been harmed by the wrongful acts of others.