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Families safety proof homes to prevent senior falls

TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. - The first day of fall kicked off a Fall Prevention Crusade to warn families to safety proof their homes to prevent seniors from falling. Falls are the #1 cause of injuries, hospital visits, and deaths among those 65 and older. That's why Senior Helpers, one of the largest in-home senior care companies warns families to safety proof their homes with a "fall prevention checklist."

"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, with trained caregivers specializing in dementia and Alzheimer's care. "Up to 30 percent of those who fall suffer injuries such as hip fractures or head traumas. Our highly trained caregivers can help spot danger zones in and around seniors' homes and help seniors move around their environment more carefully."

From the Centers for Disease Control

• One out of three seniors falls each year.

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

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

Fall prevention checklist

• Install handrails on both sides of stairs and grab bars in bathrooms (1/3 of households in America with stairs do not have banisters or handrails. Only 19 percent 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.

"Fall Prevention Checklist" for dementia/Alzheimer's patients

• Encourage seniors to wear hip protectors (90 percent of hip fractures are due to falls).

• Make sure they have a walking aid within reach.

• Use an emergency sensor overnight to help detect wandering.

• Do not use bed rails overnight. Instead, lower the bed to the ground.

• Encourage seniors to rest with the head of the bed slightly raised.

• Use a seatbelt on a shower chair. Never leave them in the shower or bathroom unattended.

"When you care for a senior with dementia, you have an added responsibility because dementia puts seniors at the highest risk for wandering which increases chances for falling," said Ross.

Other tips to help prevent falling

• Have foot size measured - do this each time your senior buys 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 - make sure seniors 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.

Did you know?

• In 2008, 82 percent 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 percent 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.

To learn more visit www.seniorhelpers.com. There, you may also request a complimentary Senior Gems DVD.

- Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, AgedCarer


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Oct 1, 2012 01:14PM Published Oct 1, 2012 01:13PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.