CDC statistics show that more than 800,000 people are hospitalized annually due to fall injuries. Most suffer hip fractures or head injuries. The majority of falls occur in the home but also happen in unsafe commercial or public areas. While preventing every incident may not be possible, it is possible to reduce the chances of falling and related injuries.
Anyone at risk due to health issues, and the elderly in particular, can protect themselves by identifying and mitigating problems like weak muscles or bones, balance issues, and vision problems. Wearing shoes with non-slip soles offers protection, and it is crucial to remove tripping hazards from home. It is also vital that at-risk individuals speak to their doctors about any medical conditions that could increase the likelihood of falling.
Hazards in the Environment
Removing tripping hazards from home reduces the chances of falling. The CDC recommends that high-risk individuals install grab bars, add handrails to both sides of stairs, and ensure homes are well-lit. Wearing laceless shoes with soles that grip the floor also increases safety.
Approximately 30% of falls occur outside of the home, and even the most careful individuals can suffer injuries when property owners create unsafe environments. Falls in public places are commonly due to factors that include slippery floors, especially in buildings with floors made of smooth, waxed tile. Every year, thousands of people also access sites like levininjuryfirm.com to get help after suffering injuries caused by uneven surfaces, cracked concrete, parking lot potholes, and unsecured rugs or mats.
Muscle and Bone Weakness
Those with osteoporosis are at exceptionally high risk of suffering injuries from falls. Per the Osteoporosis Foundation, the disease is most common in women and often leads to severe fractures. Bones and muscles also weaken with age and make falls more likely. Weakened muscles may cause falls by affecting gait and posture.
The best way to strengthen muscles and bones is to stay active, and doctors can prescribe safe, gentle activities for those who are mobility challenged. Exercises that make the legs stronger also improve balance. Tai Chi is an excellent example of this kind of exercise.
Poor sight is a factor in many falls. Seniors and those with chronic eye problems must have regular eye exams and update eyewear prescriptions as necessary. Patients with progressive lenses might consider getting glasses just for seeing at a distance since progressive lenses can make things look like they are farther away.
Aging, illness, and previous injuries can create balance problems that make falling more likely. According to the National Council on Aging, balance and flexibility generally diminish as people age, but exercise and being active can help. Using an assistive device and avoiding risks like ice and wet pavement also reduce the chances that those suffering balance issues will fall.
Prescription medicines often produce side effects that increase falling risks. Specific prescriptions and over-the-counter medications can lead to dizziness, dehydration, or interactions with other drugs that might cause a fall. Anyone who feels dizzy, groggy, or experiences vision problems after taking medication should let their doctor know. There may be safer alternatives.
Every day people are injured when they fall, but many of these incidents can be prevented. Removing trip and fall hazards in the home is essential, and everyone should be wary of falling dangers outside the home. It is crucial to address muscle and bone weakness, poor eyesight, and balance issues. Use care to ensure medications do not cause symptoms leading to falls.
Barry Lachey is a Professional Editor at Zobuz. Previously He has also worked for Moxly Sports and Network Resources “Joe Joe.” he is a graduate of the Kings College at the University of Thames Valley London. You can reach Barry via email or by phone.