According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the leading cause of injuries among older adults. In fact, in 2012, around 2.4 million falls were treated in emergency departments throughout the nation and more than 722,000 of these patients were hospitalized. Older adults who receive injuries as a result of a fall may find themselves in need of long-term care or a stay in a rehabilitative facility. And in some cases, falls can be fatal.
The most common injuries that occur from falls include fractures of the spine, hip, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm, and hand. While serious, the next statistic may open your eyes even more. Again, the CDC notes that from 2006–2010, falls were the leading cause of traumatic brain injury (TBI) for all age groups, although most occur in the youngest and oldest demographics. To put that into perspective, falls account for more than 40 percent of all TBIs in the nation; more than automobile accidents, assaults, and being struck or hit by an object combined.
Check out our tips below to help you prevent and handle falls.
Tips to Prevent Tripping
- Lighting. Have bright lighting in your home. Bright light helps you to avoid tripping over objects that are hard to see. Be sure the stairs are well lit. Put night lights in the bedroom, hallways, and bathroom.
- Rugs and cords. Fasten rugs firmly to the floor, or use rugs with non-skid backing. Tack down all loose ends on rugs. Move electrical cords from areas of the floor where you walk.
- Grab bars. Install grab bars in the bathroom. Put them in the bath and shower and next to the toilet. Do not hold onto towel bars or soap dishes when you move in the bathroom. These items may not be strong enough to support you.
- Hand rails. Avoid using stairs without hand rails. Install sturdy hand rails on all stairs.
- Kitchen items. Place kitchen items within easy reach. Do not store things too high or too low. When things are easy to reach, you will not need to use a step ladder or a stool. You also can avoid reaching and bending over when things are easily reachable.
- Footwear. Wear shoes and slippers that fit well and have firm, non-skid soles. Do not wear loose-fitting shoes or slippers.
If you have questions about this information, please talk with your nurse, therapist, or doctor.
» Watch our Medical Mondays segment on preventing falls among seniors and find additional fall-related articles.
If you’re an older adult or are caring for an older adult, it’s important to monitor your health and changing health needs. Visit the Geriatric Services at UPMC department online or call 1-800-533-UPMC to schedule an appointment.