In children, trips and falls typically lead merely to skinned knees and the occasional broken bone. But in older adults, falls are far more serious. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), each year more than 2.8 million older adults are treated in emergency departments for injuries related to falls. Of those, over 800,000 are hospitalized and 27,000 will eventually die as a result of their fall.
While most falls happen at home, as many as one million patients each year will fall during a hospitalization, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. To help address this widespread problem and keep patients safe, Shore Medical Center last year launched a new campaign, No One Walks Alone. Using posters and a variety of other techniques, we remind patients, visitors and staff that patients must always have assistance when moving about.
Whether you’re in the hospital or at home, we want you to always be safe. We’ve compiled these simple steps you can take right now to reduce your risk of falling at home:
- Fall-proof your Home. Remove any tripping hazards from your pathways, like small furniture, pet toys and electrical cords. Add grab bars next to your toilet and tub. Make sure railings are installed on both sides of a stairway. Add more lights and use brighter bulbs. Remove area rugs or make sure edges are tacked or taped down.
- Check your Eyes. Vision problems are a common cause of falls. Be sure you get your eyes checked annually and update your eyeglasses according to your prescription. If you have bifocals, consider another pair of glasses with only your distance prescription for outdoor activities.
- Buy the Right Footwear. Make sure your shoes, slippers and even socks are slip-resistant. Sturdy, supportive shoes are the best choice for people at risk for falling.
- Address Balance Problems. Do you sometimes feel dizzy or off-centered? Sometimes certain medicines can cause dizziness, or conditions like vertigo. If you think you have a balance issue and medications have been ruled out, ask your doctor to schedule a balance test.
- Stay Active. Don’t let a fear of falling keep you from exercising. The right exercises, especially when developed and performed as part of a physical therapy program, can help you develop better balance, strength and coordination and prevent falls.
To learn more about fall prevention at home or to speak with a physical therapist about balance issues, contact Shore Medical Center’s Physical Therapy department at 609-653-3512.