Falls Prevention Awareness Day is September 22, 2016. Millions of older adults fall each year, and some suffer serious injuries and hospitalization. The risk of falling and getting injured is a critical issue for older adults – but the vast majority of falls are preventable.
The Fall Prevention Center of Excellence (FPCE) explains, “At the heart of this initiative is the message that falls are preventable.” The goal of Falls Prevention Awareness Day is to “to raise awareness among older adults and their families and caregivers, elder care professionals, and the general public about the seriousness of falls and ways to reduce fall risk.”
Why is fall prevention amongst the elderly so important?
Many people do not realize how prevalent and dangerous falls are for older adults. The fact of the matter is that falls the number one cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for Americans over the age of 65, according to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), which sponsors the day of awareness. Falling accidents cause serious harm to seniors, threaten their independence, and can have significant economic costs.
These Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics illustrate how major an issue falls are for older adults:
- One out of every three seniors fall each year.
- Approximately 20 percent of these falls result in serious injuries, such as fractures and brain injuries.
- Falling causes 95 percent of hip fractures.
- Fall injuries cost our nation nearly $35 billion annually.
Seniors who have fallen once are twice as likely to fall again. These types of accidents can seriously impact quality of life, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally.
How can I help reduce the risk of falls for my loved one?
In observance of this year’s Falls Prevention Awareness Day theme, Ready, Steady, Balance: Prevent Falls in 2016, the FPCE, NCOA, and CDC have some excellent free resources available with thorough information and tips on fall prevention. You can visit their websites to find items such as flyers, posters, brochures, videos, webinars, and other materials that can help you protect your loved one and spread the word about fall prevention.
Here are a few simple things you can start doing right away:
In the Home
- Keep walkways and stairs clear of any objects that are easy to trip on.
- Check for uneven floors, loose carpeting, loose thresholds, etc.
- Keep all electrical cords out of footpaths.
- Ensure the lighting is adequate throughout the home and porch areas.
- Add any necessary safety features to the home, such as handrails, skid resistant mats, no-skid strips in the bathtub and on outside steps, rug grippers for throw rugs, etc.
- If there is a pet in the home, take extra precautions to prevent tripping hazards. Consider putting a bell on small pets that may get underfoot, try obedience training for larger dogs that jump up on people, and keep toys and food bowls out of walking paths.
At a Nursing Home
- Ask the nursing home administration what fall prevention methods they use to ensure their policies are adequate.
- Ensure your loved has the mobility aids (walker, wheelchair, cane) she needs at the facility.
- Monitor any changes you notice in your loved one, such as mental decline and loss of balance or coordination, and report any concerns to the nursing home staff.
In Daily Life
- Ensure your loved one receives regular vision checks. Eye conditions and normal age-related vision changes can affect balance, depth perception, the ability to walk, and body strength.
- Check your loved one’s medications for those that might increase fall risk. (Many medications older adults take have side effects that affect balance and perception, cause lightheadedness and dizziness, and blurs vision.)
- Make sure your loved one’s shoes are well-fitted, low-heeled, and skid-resistant. Walking around in house slippers or in socks can lead to a slip and fall accident.
- Try helping your loved one get engaged in more physical activity to maintain strength and flexibility. With the doctor’s permission, you might encourage activities such as walking for fitness (with a partner), strength training, Silver Sneakers, and tai chi.
What if my loved one fell and it was someone else’s fault?
If your loved one has been seriously hurt in a fall due to someone else’s fault, it is a good idea to consider your legal options. You might be able to file a negligence claim and recover compensation for your loved one’s damages.
Our injury attorneys at Cordisco & Saile LLC have handled numerous cases that involve falls at nursing homes. We can help hold negligent nursing homes liable for the preventable harm they cause. Some of the ways a nursing home may be negligent include:
- Failing to monitoring patients who are at risk of falling
- Lack of handrails or defective handrails
- Leaving equipment, cords, or clutter in walkways
- Not providing residents with non-slip socks and footwear
- Not supplying safety straps or chairs in the bathroom
- Failing to keep residents’ beds in locked positions
- Spills that weren’t cleaned up
- Giving residents unsuitable, poorly-fitted, or broken mobility aids
If negligence was a key factor in your loved one’s accident, our firm can help you pursue damages for losses such as medical bills, rehabilitation, assistive devices, and pain and suffering. Start collecting all bills and receipts related to the injury and any evidence you may have that may prove fault. You can then share the information with your lawyer who can help you pursue compensation.
I think I have a case, but what if I cannot afford an attorney?
At Cordisco & Saile LLC, we believe everyone who has been hurt by others’ negligence deserves legal representation – even if they are unable to pay initially. So we have implemented a contingency payment policy at our firm, which says that we do not charge our clients unless we win their case, so there are no upfront costs to you.
If you would like a free evaluation of a fall accident case to determine if you are eligible for compensation, call our office at 215-486-8196 and schedule an appointment.