Six Ways to Prevent Slip And Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents are the number one cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in adults over 65. Staggering, yes. Even more shocking is the fact that one out of every four older adults will fall during a twelve-month period. Since nearly 30,000 deaths will occur this year because of falls, it is important to learn what you can do to prevent them.¹
Why Falls are Common Among Older Adults
There are a number of reasons why adults over 65 are more prone to falls than their younger counterparts.
- Medical Reasons. As we age, our vision often weakens, and sometimes trip hazards are unseen. Our bodies are changing as well: slower reflexes, less muscle mass, weaker bones. And many older adults are on more medications than they were when they were younger. All of these things, either separately or combined, can be reasons that could add up to a serious fall.
- Environmental Causes. This could be as simple as a wet floor of a store or an uneven sidewalk. Since as we age, we don’t see as clearly or react as quickly, a combination of health and environmental issues could exist.
- Adapting to a New Normal. Sometimes things that used to be normal have changed. Maybe your body reacts differently than it used to. Walking the dog would have been normal, but being jerked when he chases a squirrel could cause a fall. A spike in blood sugar or a drop in blood pressure could cause an older body to react differently than it did when it was younger.
How to Minimize Fall Risks
Though not all falls can be prevented, they can be minimized with some easy steps to ensure that you or your loved one remain safe and upright.
1. See Your Doctor. One of the first and most important things that you can do is to contact your physician. Before a fall happens, discuss with your doctor your current medications and what side effects, if any, they have. Also discuss any over the counter medicine or supplements that you may be taking, as well, since sometimes the combination with prescribed medications can alter their effectiveness or potency. Tell your doctor any issues that you are having that you have not talked about before. For example, numbness in your feet or legs, swelling, dizziness, weakness, etc. And let them know if you have recently fallen, even if it wasn’t serious.
2. See Your Eye Doctor. In addition to your medical doctor, pay a visit to your eye doctor. Vision changes and if it has been a while since you have had yours checked, set up an appointment. Let them know if you have had any changes like floaters, flashers, or changes to your peripheral vision. Make sure your eyewear or contact lenses have your most current prescription.
3. Get Some Exercise. A strong body is less likely to fall that one that is weak. Walking is a great way to build up your endurance, strengthen leg muscles, and get your heart pumping. Adding some weight training will build muscle and strengthen your core. Some people like yoga or stretching exercises. Regardless of the type of exercise, it will all be beneficial to your muscles as well as your bones.
4. Wear Supportive Shoes. Make sure your shoes offer not only comfort but support as well. They should not be too slick on the soles so that they can grip surfaces better.
5. Keep Home Clutter-Free. We aren’t saying that you are sloppy, but rather suggest that you walk through your home and garage and take note of any items that could be possible trip hazards. Think electrical cords, loose rugs, or any uneven surfaces. Ask someone to do this with you since a fresh set of eyes may see things from a different viewpoint.
6. Ask for Help. This isn’t just about asking your son to take you to the doctor, it is also about deciding if you need a device such as a walker or a chair to help with your mobility issues. If you decide that you will need to use assistive devices, talk to a professional about how it will work in your home and if changes must be made to make access easier. And if your dog still wants to chase squirrels, the neighbor kid will probably be glad to walk him.
Falls are a very serious problem. In the event that you or one of your family members is injured because of a fall on someone else’s property, please give us a call. We would love to help!
¹ Bergen G, Stevens MR, Burns ER. Falls and Fall Injuries Among Adults Aged ≥65 Years — United States, 2014. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2016;65:993–998.