Senior Living Advice: Falls are more commonplace than you think for seniors

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By BETH DOW, Home Helpers of GA & AL

September is National Fall Prevention Month.

So why does the simple act of falling deserve an entire month of attention?  Because falling when you are younger than 60 and falling after you are 60, can have two totally different results. Results that could be life altering.

Statistics are always changing so I went to the CDC website to get the most up-to-date information to help explain the problem.

Here is why fall prevention gets a special month of awareness:

• 1 out of every 4 adults 65-and-over will fall each year.
• 1 out of every 5 falls causes injury, such as broken bones or a head injury.
• Each year 300,000 older adults are treated in the ER for a fall injury.
• At least one-third of all falls involve environmental hazards in the home.
• Two-thirds of those who fall will fall again within 6 months.
• More women fall than men. However, more men die from the result of a fall than women.

If you are over 65 years of age, those numbers should concern you.  I tell my husband all the time, it isn’t that we can’t do something (i.e., climb a ladder to cut limbs, go back snow skiing, etc.) it is that we shouldn’t do it because if we get hurt, it is going to take a lot longer to heal and recover.

I hear older folks all the time touting that they still clean out their gutters, climb into the attic, and a slew of other things that we didn’t think a second about doing when we were younger. However, I’m asking you to think about it now.

I own a home-care company, Home Helpers.  I can not tell you how many clients we have had that have broken arms, backs and necks, doing normal everyday things that they never thought twice about doing.  Many heal after a few months and are back a little more worn for the wear, but over all they heal.  But we do have those that don’t heal.  We hear stories all the time about how “the fall” was the beginning of a downhill health spiral.

This month, I would like to challenge you to look at your fall potential.  First, have you already fallen in the last six months? If you have, the chances are good that you will fall again.  Try to think through what caused the first fall.  Could it have been due to a new medication?  Statistically if you are taking five medications, there is a good chance that something you are taking is interacting negatively with something else you are taking, is a duplication of something you are taking, or is not being taken correctly.

Next, look at your home. One-third of all falls occur in the home. Throw rugs are beautiful, but as we age, they are a huge fall risk.  Poor lighting and cluttered walkways also can cause a trip and fall as do wet bathroom floors.   If you are a client of a home-care company, many of them will come out and provide a home assessment free of charge.

And last, remember, just because we are getting older, it doesn’t mean that we can’t do the things we used to do, but it does mean that sometimes we may not need to do the things we used to do.

Like I often say “we don’t bounce like we used to.”  This September, think first and possibly prevent your next fall.

Beth Dow is a Dementia and Alzheimer’s Educator, CAEd and Geriatric Care Manager. She is also the owner of Home Helpers of GA & AL in Newnan. Readers can contact her by email at [email protected].

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