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Keeping you on your feet

Tony Viglione is Marketing Director with Senior Helpers.

Fall has many connotations.

For us, in northwest Pennsylvania, Fall is a beautiful time of year when ordinarily green landscapes transform into an array of stunning colors. Fall can also be a verb used to describe when you fall in and out of love! It can even be used as an adjective … I love your new fall coat!

But, to seniors, a fall is something you never want to experience. In fact, here are a few statistics that may surprise you:

About 1/3 of seniors over the age of 65 fall each year. However, because many of these incidents go unreported or unrecognized, this is a very low estimate.

2/3’s of those who fall will fall again within 6 months

Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall

Every 19 minutes, an older adult will die from a fall

Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.

Annually, falls account for over 2.8 million injuries, 800k hospitalizations & over 27k deaths

In 2015, the total cost of fall injuries was $50 billion.

Medicare and Medicaid shouldered 75% of these costs.

87% of all fractures in the elderly are due to falls

1/4 of seniors who fracture a hip due to a fall will perish within 6 months of the injury

Statistics are taken from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Those statistics are enough to scare anyone! The good news is that many falls can be prevented. According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), 6 of every 10 falls happen at home. So, let’s look at some of the things you can do to help keep you on your feet at home and not grasping for the life alert.

BATHROOMS

Installing a walk-in shower comes with a huge safety benefit. As we age, balance issues, arthritis and an array of other health problems make it difficult for many Seniors to lift their legs over the side of the tub. Less costly shower solutions include installing grab bars, using a shower chair, making sure non-slip stickers, tapes or mats are strategically placed and switching to a hand-held shower system.

STAIRS

Eliminate or decrease stairs from your daily routine. If you don’t live in a one-story home, try to have the laundry room on the main floor. Navigating up and down stairs can be difficult enough. Adding a basket of laundry to your jaunt only increases the risk of a fall. If you can’t avoid stairs, make sure the stairs are free of clutter; make sure the area is well-lit and be sure to have a railing on both sides of the stairs.

BEDROOM

Many of us frequent the restroom in the middle of the night. Make sure that the bedroom furniture is positioned for ample walking space and that clothes and shoes are not littering the walkway. Be sure to have night lights to light your way. It’s also a good idea to keep a flashlight on your nightstand in case the power goes out. If you do not have a medical alert system, keeping a phone near your bed is also a great idea.

MISCELLANEOUS

Proper footwear is important! Be sure to wear shoes that fit well, offer support and have non-slip soles. Incorporating exercise in your daily routine can also help reduce falls. This can be a combination of aerobic and anaerobic activity, weight-lifting and Tai Chi. A recent study showed that adults over 70 who practiced Tai Chi twice a week for an hour reduced falls by 58%! Implementing these tips is a great start to remaining healthy and staying independent! Remember, your goal is to enjoy Fall, not become the victim of one.

Tony Viglione is Marketing Director with Senior Helpers. This article is brought to you by the Eldercare Council of Forest-Warren Counties.

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