While slips and falls can endanger anyone, seniors are particularly at risk for serious injury. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 25 percent of all U.S. seniors age 65 and older will fall at some point. In fact, an older adult is treated in the emergency room every 11 seconds for a fall-related injury and every 19 minutes, a senior dies from injuries sustained from a fall.

For older adults, falls are both the leading cause of fatal injuries and non-fatal trauma admissions. Furthermore, the care involved after a fall takes a significant financial toll. By 2020, treatment is expected to cost older adults as much as $67.7 billion per year. In response, the threat of falls and any subsequent injuries greatly affect seniors’ quality of life, potentially resulting in reduced social engagements, isolation, depression, feeling of helplessness and physical decline from a lack of activity.

However, even when a senior stays inside the house, falls can still happen. Statistics show that six out of every 10 falls occur at home.

Risk Factors

shower with grab bars Among older adults, certain factors make falls more likely to happen:

  • Medications: Older adults tend to experience more physical health conditions and mental impairments and drugs prescribed, such as sedatives, antidepressants and antipsychotics, often have side effects like dizziness and drowsiness. Medication interactions can also lead to similar symptoms and anticoagulants increase a patient’s risk for bleeding out after a fall.
  • Physical Conditions: Older adults are more likely to suffer from Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and arthritis, all conditions involving a combination of physical weakness in the extremities, poor grip and balance and cognitive impairments. Additionally, various ear and eye disorders can manifest through a combination of dizziness, joint pain, shortness of breath or numbness in your feet and legs, further increasing your potential for a fall-related injury.
  • Surgeries: Older adults are also more likely to need hip replacement surgery. Afterward, especially when the implant doesn’t heal correctly, an individual may be weak, in pain or have significantly decreased mobility.

Reducing Slip and Fall Injuries

If you or a loved one are concerned about fall-related injuries, you can make a few lifestyle changes to reduce these risks:

  1. Understand Your Medications: Research what a doctor prescribes for you, including its side effects, particularly dizziness, lightheadedness and tiredness, and whether it interacts negatively with other medications you take. Also, bring an up-to-date list of medications to your appointments, so any medical professionals can make sound judgements when prescribing a new medication.
  2. Incorporate Physical Activity: Regular physical activity is said to improve your strength and balance, which can lessen the chances you’ll fall. If you’re unsure of where to start, consider activities that emphasize coordination, flexibility and strength. Tai Chi, walking and water workouts offer a combination of all three! If you’re still uncertain, work with your doctor to identify an exercise program or physical therapy exercises that suits your needs.
  3. Check Your Footwear: Those with a greater fall risk are advised to avoid high heels, flip-flops, slippers and other shoes with smooth, slick soles. Your shoes should be properly fitting, sturdily constructed, include non-slip soles, and shouldn’t strain your joints. On the other hand, walking around barefoot still puts you at risk for a fall.
  4. Reduce Slip, Trip and Fall Hazards in Your Home: As most falls occur in the home, consider removing or modifying the following risks:
    • Any boxes, newspapers or magazines blocking or covering a walkway.
    • Coffee tables and any stands in a high-trafficked area.
    • Securing or removing loose rugs, floorboards and carpeting.
    • Anything spilled should be cleaned up right away.
    • Slick areas should have a non-slip mat.

Additionally, consider the following changes to your living areas:

  • Make sure common items like clothing, dishes, food and books are always within reach. Never store them high up on a shelf.
  • Keep all spaces well-lit.
  • Add treads to steps and other potentially slippery areas.
  • Consider handrails on the stairs and grab bars in the shower.
  • Have a sturdy plastic seat and hand-held nozzle added to the shower if you can’t stand for long periods of time.
  • If you wax your floors, make sure to only use a non-skid wax.
  • If you’re walking outdoors, avoid patches of ice and snow.

Slip and fall injuries can happen to anyone, resulting in high medical bills and time off from work. If you or a loved one is recovering from a fall, but fighting an irresponsible property owner for compensation, bring your claim to Trantolo & Trantolo’s attention. Contact us today to learn more.