Falls threaten a senior's safety and independence. They can also result in enormous personal costs. Through practical lifestyle adjustments and training falls among seniors can be substantially reduced.
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"One in four Americans aged 65+ falls each year.
Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies 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.
Falls result in more than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths.
In 2014, the total cost of fall injuries in USA was $31 billion.
The financial toll for older adult falls is expected to increase as the population ages and may reach $67.7 billion by 2020.
Falls, with or without injury, also carry a heavy quality of life impact. A growing number of older adults fear falling and, as a result, limit their activities and social engagements. This can result in further physical decline, depression, social isolation, and feelings of helplessness."
Universal Home Designs:
Following the principles of Universal home designs can reduce likelihood of falls in any living space
Lighting: Proper lighting in rooms, staircase, hallway, entryway and doorway is necessary to reduce bumps and falls.
Entryway Landing: Uncluttered Entryway Landing with surface to put things can help with distractions and unbalance during entering or exiting a home. A bench can help in putting on or taking off shoes and jackets.
Restrooms: Grab bars in showers, near the toilet seat and other places in the room where someone may need a helping hand. A step-in shower is safer than a bath tub. For shower and bath tubs grab bars make them safer. To reduce chances of confusion and scalding install a single-handled faucet in the sink. Levers on faucets can help people with limited motor skills. Hand held shower-head is often easier, especially when they need assistance with bathing.
Door knobs: Standard doorknobs can be quite a chore, and even painful, for someone with arthritis or other conditions. Replace them with lever style doorknobs.
Floors: To avoid slippery floors add slip-resistant, such as nonskid mats under area rugs (or better yet getting rid of the area rugs completely). Trips are as dangerous as slips, so eliminate trip points like thresholds wherever possible, or reduce their height. For those with walkers low-pile carpeting and low transitions are safer.
Stairs: Handrails are a must, on both sides of the staircase if possible. Also, clearly defined steps that show the edge help prevent falls.
Kitchen: It's essential to observe how they use the appliances and make necessary adjustments for height and placement of appliances and cabinets. As an example for someone using a wheel chair a lower sink and cook-top, ovens with doors that swing out, microwave either in lower cabinetry or on counter-top can help avoid falls. In general, it is helpful to have cabinets with pulls and closures that are suitable for the condition.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: falls can be a major life-changing event that robs the elderly of their independence. Read more to find out about more facts, causes, lifestyle and home modifications to prevent falls.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "We all want to protect our older family members and help them stay safe, secure, and independent. Knowing how to reduce the risk of falling, a leading cause of injury is a step toward this goal."
Fall Prevention Center of Excellence has a frequently asked questions about falls.
Mayo Clinic: "Fall prevention may not seem like a lively topic, but it’s important. As you get older, physical changes and health conditions make falls more likely. In fact, falls are a leading cause of injury among older adults. Still, fear of falling doesn’t need to rule your life. Instead, consider six simple fall prevention strategies."
National Council on Aging provides fall prevention facts and gives information regarding public awareness.
US Department of Housing has this Residential Remodeling and Universal Design Handbook that outlines design principles and guidelines for universal home design suitable for seenager living.
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