The frightening fact is that every 29 minutes an older adult dies from a fall. Every 15 seconds an older adult is in an emergency room as a result of a fall. Falls are the main cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for older Americans. Yet falls can be prevented.
With Florida’s large population of elders it is vital to focus on the simple ways to reduce and possibly avoid falls and the tragic results.
The first day of fall (Sept. 22) is also National Falls Awareness Day. We should observe the need for precautionary methods to avoid what can be a serious and debilitating event for many of our elders. By avoiding unnecessary falls we can save trips to the emergency rooms and unpleasant ambulance trips.
Let us all plan to take steps to make the home safer by: removing items that may be tripped over; avoiding the use of “throw” rugs; improving lighting for better visibility; keeping items frequently used within easy reach; avoiding the use of step stools or small step ladders; placing non-slip mats in the tub and shower; installing grab bars in bathrooms; using handrails on stairways; and wearing shoes that provide firm support (avoid slippers and sandals).
Also, have your vision checked at least once each year and ask your doctor to change any medication that causes dizziness. Through simple exercises (Tai Chi and balance training) one also may decrease the risk of falling incidents.
It has been found that these tips are of benefit to everyone as well as our elders.
As we age we may not always have the agility as we did in our teen years and should take appropriate measures to safeguard our safety to the best of our ability.
Let’s all try to make our fall season a pleasant experience by enjoying the cooler weather — not taking a trip to the hospital as a result of an untimely fall.
Austin R. Curry
The writer is executive director of Elder Care Advocacy of Florida.