Prevent Falls With These Safety Tips For Seniors

preventing falls, older adults
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Staying safe around the house is important for everyone, but especially for seniors who may be facing health problems and limited mobility. As the American population continues to age, in-home safety will continue to be of vital importance. About 1/3 of older Americans (those 65 and up) will suffer a fall this year; the sooner the person is found, the greater the chance of survival.

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  • 50% of people who fall need assistance to get up. Medical alert systems can provide peace of mind for seniors and their families.
  • People over the age of 80 die in fires at a rate of three times higher than the rest of the population.
  • About 30% of older Americans who aren’t institutionalized live alone. One of every two women 75 and older live alone.
  • One out of three older adults falls each year. In 2008, more than 19,700 older Americans died from unintentional fall injuries.
  • Now: one in eight Americans is 65 or older. By 2030 it will be almost one in five.

Safety Tips for Fall Prevention

  1. Exercise Regularly: Gentle movement is best for older people, so consider Tai Chi or similar programs.
  2. If you have stairs, place handrails on each side of the stairwell.
  3. Make sure the home doesn’t have extension cords or long cables in walking paths.
  4. Keep walkways as clear as possible, and make sure pets are not frequently underfoot.
  5. Keep ash trays, lighters, and other fire sources (heaters, hot plates, teapots) away from beds and bedding.
  6. Cooking-related accidents are the leading cause of fire injuries for older Americans. Long sleeves are more likely to catch fire.
  7. Have at least one phone accessible in the event of an accident. Consider a cordless phone, but make sure you keep it charged and keep it with you.
  8. Improve the lighting in your home.
  9. Install and maintain at least one smoke detector on each floor of the home.
  10. Use slip resistant carpets and rugs.
  11. Ask your doctor to review your medications to identify any side effects such as drowsiness or dizziness.
  12. Turn water heater temp to 120 degrees to help prevent scalding.
  13. Place grab bars and non slip mats in the bathtub.
  14. Heating equipment is blamed for many fires in the homes of elderly people. Exercise caution when using space heaters or wood stoves.
  15. Have your eyes checked at least once a year and update your eyeglasses prescription. Consider single-vision distance lenses for activities such as outdoor walking.

Sources: US Administration on Aging, World Bank, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Medical Guardian.

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