They can throw the numbers down about seniors and falling – 1/3 of seniors fall annually if you are over age 65 , if you are in the 80 year old bracket- half will experience a fall annually as a statistically average. What does that really say? If there are seniors out there that do not fall at all- what are they doing right? My beef with the stats is that all it does is wrap you up in fear and loathing…25% require hospital admissions , 40 % of nursing homes admissions are attributed to falls?
Now a more useful stat is that 55% of falls for seniors are in their homes. Does that include the outside and driveways , I think so. Beyond exercising an abundance of caution, those icy sidewalks , uneven walkways and littered paths are out there beyond your home sweet home. But in your own home your own measure of strength and balance and common sense practice should hopefully put you in the hopefully never fall category. The proper amount of forethought and paranoia can help reduce slips, trips and falls .
We have talked about lighting your home. You want to see what is going on. Throw rugs can make a slip and fall as easy as trip and fall. There is no real difference when you are down on the floor even if you can get up unassisted. Steps or no steps that is always the debate, but using hand railings is just plain common sense. Another source of slip and fall incidents is what you have around that slips on to the floor , a heavy comforter, clothes, magazines – food! The hazards you create on your own are the most insidious, as in your tripped over what? , your pet, toys left out by little people.
I am particularly conscious of falling as I belong to the category of women with creeping osteopenia–an earlier progression towards osteoporosis. I remember reading a book on osteoporosis and the first piece of advice against hip fractures was just don’t fall! It seemed insulting at the time. Just like lifting something in awkward manner or above your weight class is just a invitation to a back or knee injury , so is putting yourself at risk. As you age that long walk in the neighborhood will always have to be tempered with surface conditions.
What are some of usual suspects if not the sneaky culprits?
Leaning over in the shower to pick something slippery up ad not having any supports there to reliably grab on to.
Reaching obviously beyond your comfortable reach for something that you could move closer to.
Rushing to do something ( pick up phone, get to the bathroom(big factor) , answer door bell). This is cited in many an accident report.
Uneven surfaces thresholds …fix it before it fixes you.
and the list goes on ( hopefully by suggestions from my readers: see leave a reply below).
More intrinsic factors for falling have to do with medication and side effects. This is the tricky part when the medications you are on for blood pressure etc present a challenge in themselves in terms of dizziness or being less aware. Or self medicating period. The haze you create may be your own undoing.
So as you plan to age in place, you have to plan to guard yourself by both staying as strong as you can so you can resist and recover from falls. Stay as vigilant as you can to fall proof your own home which should be your immediate area of expertise. You don’t want to be an advertisement for that commercial you know- which one I mean.