Falls and Fall Danger
Who is at risk for falls?
Technically, everyone is at risk of falling. The true culprit behind falls is gravity, and that is something that we are all subject to. If, however you are currently living in orbit in the ISS, then you are safe from falls! Most of us, however are not in such conditions, and falls are a very real danger that we face every day.
The risk of falling does increase with age, and it is something we need to give more attention to as we get older. Not only does the risk increase as we age, but our bodies are less capable of handling a fall when we are older, and thus the ensuing injuries tend to be much more serious.
According to the CDC, there are around 2.5 million non-fatal injuries every year that happen among older adults (those 65 and older). Of those 2.5 million, more than 700,000 are hospitalized for serious injury. Sometimes an injury from a fall can be permanent, and it makes life just that much harder.
Most of the fractures and dislocation injuries that happen in older adults are related to fall. Falling is also the most common cause of traumatic brain injury. Additionally falls account for more than 25,000 unintentional deaths annually, with the fatality rate 40% higher for men than it is for women.
Regular exercise is a huge risk reducing factor. Having a regular exercise routine can improve leg strength and balance, thus greatly reducing the risk of a fall. This also increases confidence in one’s ability to walk, run, or stand.
Eyesight plays an important part. It is very vital to have our eyes checked regularly and get any prescription eye equipment necessary. Poor eyesight means decreased line of sight, which in turn lowers the ability to see and avoid obstacles.
Clearing the clutter is another important factor. It is really surprising how far just having a clear walking path can go. Small, obstructive objects are easy to overlook due to their size, and that leads to some very serious mistakes that cause falls. Keep and loose cables and cords out of the walking path, run them behind furniture if they are absolutely needed. If the room is too crowded with furniture and accessories, it may be time to think about downsizing. Keeping the old coffee table may not really be worth the ensuing hospital bill.
Taking preventative measures is a very good thing, but what do you do is a fall still happens? It is very important to have a safety measure in place to be there for us in the event of a fall.
A very good first line of rescue is a PERS unit (Personal Emergency Response System). PERS units are the pendants that hang around you neck, or wrist, or belt loop and they are designed to contact the proper emergency personel in the even of a serious accident. We have all seen the commercials for them, and many companies offer them with different names and features. The emphasis is on having one though, not which one. It is easy to think “well I have a cell phone, I’ll just stick with that.” However, PERS units are designed to be there when we cant get to, or even use our cell phone. They are designed to save lives in the event of an accident that renders us helpless or trapped in some way.
Now, cell phones in conjunction with a PERS unit are a good idea. Not every accident merits calling the ambulance, or even the activation of a medical alert unit. For those times, a cell phone is the perfect answer. Yes, there are cordless home phones, but their battery is not very long-lived or reliable, nor is the signal. A cell phone is just a good safety measure, and it is important that it be carried with you.
The important thing to take away is that falls are a very real risk for all of us. Falls should never be taken lightly, because that is when they are most likely to happen. Overall, just be aware of the risk, and take proper preventative measures against the dangers of falling.