For Americans 65 years or older, there is no greater threat to their lives than a devastating fall. Each year, nearly 40% of elderly adults fall at least once and either suffers injury, decreased independence or death as a result. Falls need not be from high locations or within dangerous environments in order to be injurious. Most falls occur at home or in the nursing home environment while the person is conducting regularly activities of daily life. Things that were once commonplace, such as showering or walking around furniture, can become hazardous for the aging population without the appropriate accommodations. The consequences of falls can range from minor to serious injury, to death. Some common fall-related injuries include: Bumps and bruises.
Fractures, especially hip fractures.
Head trauma and brain injury.
Not only can such injuries incur medical bills and a need for ongoing healthcare services, but they can also limit the patient’s ability to live and function on their own, which can also necessitate daily and ongoing monitoring. At-home caregivers and nursing home staff need to take the proper precautions for preventing falls, as do aging individuals who live alone. Luckily, there are many ways for people to prevent falls for themselves and for others. Following is a collection of some easy, inexpensive methods to try.Shower Chairs: The shower can be a dangerous environment for elderly patients due to its slippery flooring and lack of stabilizing fixtures. For this, shower chairs can be an effective way to help the elderly maintain regular hygiene. Shower chairs are simple, cushioned chairs with suction cups on the feet and rust- and mold-resistant materials. These chairs can stay in the shower, allowing the patient to sit when they become tired, to use the fixture as a method for stabilization and to help get in and out of bathtubs.
The Invacare Adjustable Transfer Bench is a basic example of such a chair, with its bench-like seating and arm-rails. Such chairs are especially good for patients who use walkers, are in wheelchairs or otherwise have restricted mobility. Patients can simply get next to the tub or shower, sit on the transfer bench, and then swivel into the bath or shower with ease.Grab Bars: Many falls occur within the transition between seated and standing positions, as rising can cause dizziness and instability in the elderly, and weak leg muscles may not be able to fully complete the movement. Grab bars are an easy way to maintain a steady, stable motion and allow the patient to use their upper and lower body to stand and make other similar movements.
The bathtub and the toilet are two common areas where sitting and standing can become problematic and even dangerous. The Standers Curve Grab Bar is one type of specialized grab bar for the toilet area. It is affixed to a wall near the toilet and its two-tiered handle system gives patients the ability to bring themselves to a standing position one tier at a time. The large looped handles are easy to grip, and lie flush with the bar to prevent interference or injury once the assistance is complete. The Rubbermaid Bathtub rail is another example of a specialized grab bar for the bathroom. These rails affix firmly and easily to the side of the tub, and feature multi-level handles to allow patients to pull themselves up into a sitting position, and then rise into a standing one.For other areas of the home, standard gripping bars can be affixed to any stable surface in any room. The Invacare Knurled Grab Bars come in multiple sizes for vertical and horizontal mounting. The texture surface makes them easy to grip, while sturdy construction makes them reliable. Bed Rails: After long periods of rest, the body can take a little bit of time to get back to full strength. For those who need help getting in or out of bed, a bed rail can be a practical solution. Bed rails can be affixed to the bed or placed between the ceiling and the floor in accordance with the environment and desired setup.
The Standers Security Pole & Curve Bar is one example of a bed rail that stands between the ceiling and the floor. It features a pivoting, multi-tiered handle that sits security at the head of the bed and allows the patient to grasp the handles or the bar and safely and securely stand up. This particular model accommodates ceilings between 8 and 9 feet in height, locks into place for extra stability and disassembles for easy transport. The Drive Medical EZ Assist Pole is similar.Walkers and Walking Canes: While maintaining independence is important to many aging adults, they are not always able to walk or stand on their own. Without the ongoing stability needed to maintain the upright position, falls and other accidents can occur. A walker or cane gives patients a simple, portable method for getting around while concurrently avoiding falls.
The Rubbermaid Fixed Wheel Adult Folding Walker is one of the more common walkers on the market because of its affordability, simplicity, versatility and portability. The light construction and folding frame keep it easy and convenient to use, back wheels make it ideal for walking and stationary front stops also make it useful for support while standing. Canes are a traditional way to help aging adults get around with extra stability and support. The Invacare Quad Cane is another popular stability item, with a four-footed support that makes it more stable to use and prevents it from falling over and becoming a tripping hazard. In addition to assisting products, aging adults can take some personal and medical precautions to help them avoid falls and maintain independence for longer periods of time. A few of these steps include: Regular, light exercise that focuses on strength and balance (such as yoga or tai chi).
Reviewing medications with doctors to find ways to limit side effects such as dizziness or weakness.
Having eyes checked once per year to ensure that prescriptions are up to date and effective.
Improving lighting in the home.
Reducing tripping hazards by minimizing clutter and rearranging furniture
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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Disease Control and Prevention – Injuries Among Older Adults