Take Action to Prevent Fall-Related Injuries

Posted on Sep 4, 2015

Mature couple hand in hand, splashing in surf, smilingBy Chris Graham
Eden Medical Center

Fall-related injuries are a serious health threat to older adults, who are five times more likely to be hospitalized after a fall than for any other accident.

At least 20 to 30 percent of falls in older adults lead to serious injuries, such as hip fractures and head injuries.

What can you do to prevent a fall? Safeguard your independence by reducing your risks at home and in your daily activities.

To reduce mishaps at home:

  • install handrails and nightlights
  • fasten area rugs to the floor
  • move electrical cords and furniture out of walking paths
  • put a bell on your pet’s collar.

In your shower or tub, install:

  • a chair or bench
  • grab bars
  • non-skid mats.

The possibility of a fall-related injury increases with age because of declining muscle strength, hearing, vision and coordination. So have your vision and hearing checked regularly by your doctor.

Although 85 percent of falls occur in the home, consider using walking sticks or a cane or walker for extra stability when you’re out and about. Exercise consistently to improve your strength, balance and flexibility and talk with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.

Review your medications with a pharmacist and always consult your physician before taking over-the-counter medicine. Taking multiple medications simultaneously or drugs that affect your balance, such as sleeping pills and blood pressure prescriptions, can also increase your chance of falling.

The likelihood of falling is also higher if you have had a stroke or if you have a disease that affects your balance and coordination, such as multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis or Parkinson’s disease.

Other risk factors include a history of falls, a fear of falling, lack of exercise and the presence of household hazards, including clutter, poor lighting and slippery floors.

Chris Graham is the trauma prevention coordinator for Trauma Service Leadership at Sutter Health’s Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley and member of the Senior Injury Prevention Partnership.

Attend Sutter Health’s Free Fall Prevention Events in Oakland and San Leandro

Tuesday, Sept. 22, 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
The Lake Merritt Senior Residences, 1800 Madison Street, Oakland

Kathryn Orsini, MSW, will discuss how to reduce your risk of falling. Learn ways to improve your balance and prevent falls and be our guest for lunch. Reserve your spot by calling 510-903-3600.

Tuesday, Sept. 29, 9:30-11:30 a.m.
San Leandro Senior Community Center, 13909 East 14th Street, San Leandro

Join us for individual medication review, balance assessment and exercises, information and discussion. Reserve your spot by calling 510-727-3176.



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