September is Fall Prevention Awareness month, an ideal time to assess your home and ensure it’s fall-proof.
Are you wondering if you really need to be concerned? If you’re 65 or over, the answer is an unequivocal ‘yes.’ According to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of injuries for seniors, and they often result in fractures and brain injuries. In fact, falls are the number one cause of brain injuries according to the Brain Injury Association of America. Plus, falling when you’re older can be more serious compared to when you’re younger because an older person’s bones are more brittle and will break easier.
If you or a loved one live alone, there are preventative steps you can take to keep from falling. The number one thing you can do is create a safe living space. Begin by removing clutter from the home, particularly things strewn about on the floor that you can trip over, including slippery rugs (or place a non-skid surface underneath the rug). Avoid wearing loose fitting clothing which can get caught on something or drag on the floor. And if you like to wear socks, make sure you only wear the kind with grips on the bottom. Also, install non-slip mats in your shower and bathtub to prevent falls on wet surfaces. In addition, make sure the house is adequately lit. Lastly, consider installing guardrails throughout the home, including along stairs and in the bathtub/shower.
Another way to protect against falls is maintaining optimal health, because people who are in better physical health tend to fall less. Conversely, people who have high (health) risk factors are at greater risk for falling. The good news is that most health risk factors can be modified to help prevent falls. So, make sure you get a physical (at least once a year) and that it includes (but not limited to) the following:
- Check your balance
- Go over the medications you’re taking with your doctor as some medicines can affect balance
- Check your vision
- Check for vitamin D deficiency (commonly overlooked), as vitamin D helps with balance
- Check for foot pain (or footwear), as painful feet can be clumsy
The following tips can be used for another high-risk group for falls, children:
- Install guardrails on a child’s bed (or baby crib)
- Place a non-slip bathmat in the bottom of the tub
- Place a non-skid surface under all throw rugs
- Install window safety locks
- Anchor furniture, including large flat-screen TVs. That may sound odd, but according to the U.S. Product Safety Commission, these kinds of accidents happen approximately every 43 minutes!
- When your child is outside, opt for a playground with impact-absorbing surfaces under equipment