Americans are living longer and more active lives than ever. Men and women over the age of 65 are increasingly staying in the workforce, traveling for extended periods of time, and maintaining their own homes well into their 80s. If you have an active older parent or grandparent, you would hate for their independence to come to an abrupt end due to a careless slip and fall, yet one in three people 65 and older suffers a serious fall every year. Just how likely is it that your older loved one will fall and hurt him or herself? What safety precautions can you take? Read on to find out all you need to know.
According to the Numbers, a Fall Is Likely If You Are Over 65
The statistics regarding seniors and slip and fall accidents are frightening. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), falls are the leading cause of injury-related death among people over the age of 65. Other important facts from the NSC include the following:
- 25,500 people over 65 died from falls in 2013.
- 1.8 million seniors were treated for nonfatal falls in emergency departments.
- Falls account for 87 percent of all fractures among older people and are the second-leading cause of spinal cord and traumatic brain injury.
- 40 percent of nursing home admissions are due to injuries suffered in falls.
- Half of all elderly adults hospitalized for hip fractures are unable to ever live independently again.
Why Are the Elderly So Prone to Falling?
If you have older family members or friends who are lucky enough to still be living independently, you should definitely be concerned for their safety. While aging itself does not directly cause falls, the elderly suffer falls for many reasons, including:
- Muscle weakness
- Medications that cause dizziness
- Improper footwear
- Impaired vision
- Impaired hearing
- Slick floors
- Poor lighting
- Loose rugs
- Uneven surfaces
The good news is that most of these causes of slip and fall accidents can be prevented with regular medical check-ups and by assessing your loved one’s home for trip hazards.
Taking the Time to Make Sure Your Loved One Is Safe
Some of the effects of aging are unavoidable. Eyesight and hearing begin diminish in nearly everyone over the age of 65. Make sure your loved one gets regular vision screenings and that he or she updates eyeglass prescriptions as needed. Hearing screenings are equally important as problems in the ear canal can affect balance and lead to falls. Regular exercise will help maintain muscle tone and balance. Many gyms are now senior-friendly, or you could join your friend or family member on regular walks in the evening. Discuss possible side-effects of prescriptions with the doctor as medications that cause drowsiness or dizziness could put your loved one at risk for a fall. As far as trip hazards around the home, the NSC recommends the following precautions:
- Remove clutter, small furniture, pet gear, electrical cords, throw rugs and anything else that might cause someone to trip.
- Arrange or remove furniture so there is plenty of room for walking.
- Secure carpets to the floor.
- Make sure outdoor areas are well lit and walkways are smooth and free from ice.
- Use non-slip adhesive strips on stairs.
- Use non-skid mats or appliques in the bath and shower.
- Install grab bars in the tub, shower and near the toilet.
- Install railings on both sides of stairs.
- Provide adequate lighting in every room and stairway.
- Place nightlights in kitchen, bath and hallways.
- Move often-used items like food, clothing, cooking pots, and bathroom toiletries to low shelves so an older person won’t be tempted to use a stool or ladder to get to them.
- When it becomes necessary, provide personal walking devices, such as a cane or walker, to aid in stability.
Taking the time on a regular basis to check your loved one’s home could mean the difference between prolonging his or her independence and moving him or her into a nursing home.
Have You Been Injured In A Henderson Slip and Fall Accident?
If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall you need to speak with an experienced slip and fall lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Henderson office directly at 702.405.6000 to schedule a free consultation with our slip and fall attorneys.