http://pleasantonweekly.com/print/story/print/2013/04/12/safety-proof-homes-to-prevent-senior-falls


Pleasanton Weekly

- April 12, 2013

Safety proof homes to prevent senior falls

Check out these tips to stay steady on your feet

Centers for Disease Control continues to warn families to safety proof their homes to prevent seniors from falling since falls are the No. 1 cause of injuries, hospital visits and deaths among those 65 and older.

"Falls have become a nationwide problem and despite what people may think about the older population, falls are not inevitable. In fact, they're largely preventable," said Peter Ross, CEO and co-founder of Senior Helpers. "Up to 30% of those who fall suffer injuries such as hip fractures or head traumas."

Here is a checklist to help make a home safe:

* Install handrails on BOTH sides of stairs and grab bars in bathrooms (One-third of households in America with stairs do not have banisters or handrails. Only 19% of households in America have grab bars in tubs/showers).

* Provide plenty of light at the top and bottom of stairs and throughout hallways.

* Paint the bottom basement step white to make it more visible.

* Secure rugs to the floor to prevent tripping.

* Attach non-slip strips to the bottom of slippers and shoes.

* In outside areas, check steps and walkways for loose bricks, cement or stone.

Other tips to help prevent falling:

Have Foot Size Measured -- Seniors should do this each time they buy shoes. Foot size changes with age and a shoe that is too big increases the risk of a fall.

Exercise Regularly -- Choose activities that increase leg strength and improve balance in seniors, such as Tai Chi.

Eye Check-ups -- Seniors should have their eyes checked by a doctor at least once a year and have their eyeglasses updated as needed.

A good tip: Consider getting a pair with single vision distance lenses for activities such as walking outside.

Review medications -- Have a doctor or pharmacist review medications/prescriptions to learn what may cause side effects, such as dizziness or drowsiness.

Senior fall facts:

* In 2008, 2.1 million older Americans were injured in falls.

* In 2008, 19,700 older Americans died from fall related injuries.

* In 2008, 82% of fall deaths were among people 65 and older.

* Fall-related fractures occur more than twice the rate for older women than for older men.

* More than 90% of hip fractures are caused by falls. And white women have significantly higher hip fracture rates than black women.

* Direct medical costs of falls equaled $28.2 billion in 2010.

Since one out of three seniors fall each year, according to statistics by Centers for Disease Control, taking safety measures now is well worth the time and effort.

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