Is your home a safe haven or a trap for accidents?
An unsecured carpet or cluttered areas in your home can put your loved ones at risk of falling. In addition to physical strain, a fall can also contribute to financial strain. The high cost of medical care, physical exams, prescription drugs, skilled nursing care, and unexpected emergency room copays is yet another layer of stress we may feel after a fall happens.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- 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 2015, the total cost of fall injuries was $50 billion. Medicare and Medicaid shouldered 75% of these costs.
- The financial toll for older adult falls may reach $67.7 billion by 2020.
How can we prevent these falls from happening in our homes? The good news is that you don’t have to do a complete remodel of your home. Making basic changes to specific hazardous areas is the key.
Identify and address simple safety tips for your home :
- First, your home lighting should be bright to avoid tripping over household objects that are difficult to see.
- Install night lights in your bedroom, hall and bathroom.
- Remove unnecessary furniture to avoid tripping over them and causing the fall.
- Attach carpets firmly to the floor or have a non-slip surface.
- Avoid adding carpets on stairs.
- Electrical cables must not be on the ground in the passageways.
- Eliminate the collection of newspapers or magazines that have accumulated on the floor.
- Consult with your physician about the use of an assistive device (e.g., cane, walker). Walkers, particularly those with wheels, are more appropriate for patients at higher risk of falling due to weakness in both legs or a coordination disorder.
- Put handrails in your bathroom, for use in bath, shower and toilet.
- Do not use stairs without railings on both sides to support yourself and make sure the stairways are well lit.
- In the kitchen, everything must be within your reach; do not place things too low or too high to avoid the use of step stools.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/index.html
- National Council on Aging/Center for Healthy Aging https://www.ncoa.org/healthy-aging/falls-prevention/
- Department of Health and Human Services/Administration on Aging https://www.hhs.gov/aging/index.html
- Medline Plus http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/assistivedevices.html