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Senior Falls Prevention: 3 Tips to Prevent Falls and Slips
Jun 15, 2017 by Jim Hammond
Falling is one of the leading causes of injury to seniors in the United States. Nursing homes and home health companies are implementing new fall risk trainings and preventions more and more frequently because of it. Helping to prevent falls can help prevent the other things that come with a fall, such as mental health issues, and even death.
The Low-Down on Senior Falls
Despite our instincts to want to live at home as we age, sometimes that is not the safest option, especially for seniors with dementia or who are deemed a fall-risk. Here are some startling statistics:
- Regardless of how big your home is, how many floors it has, etc., you can be ask risk for falling in it, if not proactive about preventing these falls.
- About 70% of injuries that require visits to the emergency room (and accompanying surgery, in most cases) actually occur within or just 30 yards of one’s own home.
- Most of these injuries are traumatic brain injuries, hip fractures, and other fractures in general.
How can I prevent me or my loved one from falling?
Three basic principles can help you avoid a fall:
- Stay present. Life is quite distracting with all of our technologies, our to-do lists, people to see, places to be, and so on – but it is important to be aware of your surroundings and go carefully. For example, if you are going down the stairs, should you be thinking about what you’ll be having for dinner tomorrow, or what your daughter posted on Facebook that upset you? No. Rather, you should focus on holding onto the handrail and taking one step at a time until you are on flat ground again.
- Survey your surroundings. Do the three-look method when entering a room: look low and see if there is anything you can trip on, look level to see if anything is in your way of walking, and look high to see if you have enough light to safely navigate the space.
- Don’t rush yourself. There is no need to run to the door when the doorbell rings, to run to the phone when you get a call, or even to bolt outside if your house is on fire. Sounds gruesome, I know, but the risk of you falling greatly increases when you pick up speed. Take it slow to ensure you won’t hurt yourself.
What should I do if I actually fall?
Now that you know what to do to avoid a fall, you should know what to do in case you actually do fall. Again, a simple three steps can shed light on what to do:
- Take a breather. Stop for a minute and process what happened. Take a few breaths, analyze the situation, and calm down before you figure out your next step.
- Check yourself. Does anything hurt? Are there any open wounds, any blood, did you hit your head when you fell? What did you trip on, did it harm you in any way? Note all of these things and see if you are capable of even standing up before moving on to step 3.
- Call for help, and if you can, try to stand. If you feel comfortable with attempting to stand (again, after you are clear from step 2), or if someone is around to help you, you can try to stand. If you are alone in your own home, roll onto your side, bend your knees, and scrunch your way over to a sturdy object, such as a couch or large chair. Grab onto the object with one hand, and while using the other hand to push, try rolling onto your knees. Then, use the object to help you stand. Call for help regardless of how you feel to assure that no internal injuries have occurred.
Though falling doesn’t seem like a big deal, falls are one of the most dangerous hazards to senior citizens. Knowing how to prevent them and what to do when you do fall can help greatly reduce the risk of serious injury, or even death.