Preventing A Fall: Simple Solutions to Safely Age in Place


June 23, 2016senior_fall_prevention.jpg
 
By Ramona Schimka, MORe Now Contributor
 
 

By 2030, the population aged 50 or over will increase to 132 million. Let’s face the facts. We aren’t getting any younger. And as we age, we begin to evaluate our current housing situation in light of the not-so-distant future. Where should I live?  Should I stay at home or should I move?

According to AARP, of the 22 million senior homeowners in the U.S. today, 85% have indicated that they want to live at home the remainder of their lives. If you choose to age in place, whether short or long term, it’s important to consider what modifications may need to be made to your home in order to maintain a safe living environment.

The 2016 Mainstreet Senior Expos featured the seminar, Simple Steps for Aging in Place, presented by Pete Furlong of Stay Renovations. During his presentation, Pete expressed that falls are a major safety concern of anyone aging in place. Falls are not only serious, but can be more costly than installing grab bars or chair lifts, for example, into your home.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has eye-opening statistics in regards to falls in the United States. Each year, millions of older adults fall and less than half of those adults inform their doctor of their fall.

Falls are not only serious, but can be more costly than installing grab bars or chair lifts, for example, into your home.
 

Stats:

--13 million older Americans fall each year
--2.4 million of the falls lead to ER visits
--772K result in hospital stays
--95% of hip fractures happen because of a fall
--1in 5 hip fracture patients die within a year because of the injury
--1 in 3 hip fracture patients, who lived independently before the hip fracture end up living in a nursing home for over a year
 

Preventing a Fall

 
Ask yourself, “Am I at risk for falling?”
Identify the risk. What are you doing during the day that puts you at risk for a fall or injury? It’s crucial to be honest with yourself and make a concerted effort to be responsible for your surroundings. The number one place people fall is in their home, and that room is the bathroom, followed by the kitchen, steps, and the threshold.

Take some action
Make a commitment to create a safer home. Pete explains, “It doesn’t have to be a huge investment, and it’s so important not to ignore these risks.”

The CDC has helpful suggestions for reducing the risk of falling:
1. Exercise regularly, focusing on strengthening and balance exercises.
2. Talk to your doctor about any medication you are currently taking that could contribute to dizziness or fatigue.
3. Have your eyes checked.
4. Reduce the tripping hazards in your home: add grab bars around the shower/bathtub and near all toilets, install railings on both sides of the stairs, and make sure there is sufficient lighting for easy maneuvering around the house.
5. Turn down your water heater. If your mobility is limited, you will have a harder time responding to a hot tap or shower. Make sure your heater is not over 120 degrees.
6. Be receptive to tools that will help you be more independent. Stair lifts give you the opportunity to use your second floor without putting yourself at risk for a fall.