Falls Prevention Week Is September 21 – 25

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One in four Americans, aged 65 and over have accidental falls every year. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in older adults. Accidental falls are costly—both in dollars and in quality of life.

This year, Fall Prevention Week will be held September 21st – 25th. Our primary goal is to raise awareness in older adults in how to prevent falls. There are many devices available on the market that can help aid senior adults when they fall. Let’s explore a brief history on these devices:

In 1972, Dr. Andrew Dibner, a gerontologist, was the first person to think of a life alert service that could call for emergency help when an elderly person is unable to get to their phone. It was known as the Automatic Alarm System. In 1987, Isaac Shepher, created the Life Alert system. Life Alert is a medical alert pendant that can be worn as a necklace or a wristband. In 1992, the famous catch phrase was introduced “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!”

Here are some quick tips to help prevent falls for senior adults:

  • Clean up clutter. It’s necessary to remove clutter and keep your home clean. Keep areas, such as hallways and staircases, clear.
  • Repair or remove tripping hazards. Examine every room and hallway, looking for items like loose carpet, slippery throw rugs, or wood floorboards that may have lifted over time.
  • Install grab bars and handrails. These safety devices are crucial for going up and down stairs, getting on and off the toilet, and stepping in and out of the bathtub.
  • Avoid wearing loose clothing. You want to feel comfortable at home, but baggy clothes can sometimes make you more likely to fall. It is important to wear better-fitting and properly hemmed clothing that doesn’t bunch up or drag on the ground.
  • Light it right. Inadequate lighting is another major hazard. To create a home that is more suitable, install brighter light bulbs, particularly in stairways and narrow hallways. Night lights help with early morning bathroom use.
  • Wear shoes or non-slip socks. Socks may present a slipping risk. Preventing falls at home can be as simple as wearing proper fitted shoes with non-slip soles or non-slip socks that have grips on the soles of the feet.
  • Live on one level. Even with precautions like guardrails, stairs can present a significant falling hazard. Live on one level of your home to avoid the stairs. If that’s not possible, try to limit the trips you take up and down the stairs.
  • Move more carefully and take a pause. Many people fall at home simply by moving too quickly from a sitting or standing position and vice versa. Pause before going from lying down to sitting up and from sitting to standing. Also, pause before using the railing on stairs, whether going up or down.

Written by Shannon Bullock, Deputy Director of Injury Prevention, Director, Safe Kids NC