Preventing Falls & Injuries

According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2003 more than 1.8 million seniors age 65 and older were treated in emergency departments for fall-related injuries and more than 421,000 were hospitalized. Among older adults, falls are also the leading cause of injury deaths. More than one-third of adults ages 65 years and older fall each year!! Among people ages 75 years and older, those who fall are four to five times more likely to be admitted to a long-term care facility for a year or longer.

As we age, our bodies do not bounce back from injuries as easily. Falls and fractures among older adults can sometimes be prevented by following safety measures, and being aware of the risks in order to avoid them.


How to Reduce Your Risk of Falling

Falls threaten the health, well-being and independence of older people. Here’s how to reduce your risk of falling.

When you first wake up, sit on the edge of the bed and make sure you are not dizzy before you get out of bed.

Eat breakfast every morning. Skipping a meal could make you dizzy.

Be careful around pets, they can get in front of your feet or jump on you.

Use a cane or walker if you are unsteady. Promptly replace worn rubber tips of these devices.


Bathroom safety

Never grab a towel rack, shampoo holder or soap tray for support in the shower. These will not hold a person’s weight.

Let the soap suds go down the drain before you move around in the shower. Do not turn suddenly.

If you are prone to falling, use a shower chair and a handheld shower attachment.

Clean up puddles of water immediately.

Do not lock the bathroom door. That will delay help in reaching you.


Stair safety

Never carry any package that will obstruct your view of the next step.

Keep at least one hand on the handrail.

Concentrate on what you are doing; don’t be distracted by sounds.


Bedroom safety

Arrange clothes in your closet so they are easy to reach.

Replace satiny sheets and comforters with products made of nonslippery material, i.e., cotton, wool.


Your vision

Wear glasses if you need them, but remove reading glasses before you walk.


The phone

If you are not close to the telephone when it rings, don’t rush to it. Fast, sudden moves could throw you off balance.

Make sure you have access to a telephone that you can reach to call for help if you fall. Consider carrying a portable phone.


Eliminate hazards

Wear clothes that fit you properly. You can trip on a coat, pair of pants or bathrobe that is too long.

Don’t leave clothes or newspapers on the floor.

Close cabinet drawers so you won’t stumble over them.

(For a free Don’t Let a Fall Be Your Last Trip brochure, call the Academy’s public service telephone number (800) 824-BONES or send a stamped, self addressed business size envelope to Don’t Let a Fall Be Your Last Trip, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, P.O. Box 1998, Des Plaines, Ill. 60017.)