By Tammy Kaplan, CID, CAPS and Dina Leyden, PT, CAPS
According to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, one out of three older adults (65 or older) falls each year but fewer than half talk to their healthcare providers about it.
The CDC also reports that in 2013, the direct medical costs of falls among older adults, adjusted for inflation, were more than $34 billion. Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of all injuries.
And unless we start taking the risk more seriously, it’s only going to get worse.
The center recommends these four things to reduce the risk of falling:
- Monitoring medication side effects
- Correcting your vision
- Making your home safe
Making your home safe is where AIP Designs can help. Most people, especially seniors, spend a great deal of time at home, so it is imperative that it is a safe environment, especially if one is living alone.
Four ways to safeguard your home that we often recommend:
- Reducing tripping hazards such as rugs
- Adding grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower and next to the toilet
- Installing railings on both sides of stairways
- Improving the lighting in your home
A key part of AIP Designs’ consultation is the Fall Risk Assessment. We look at health issues and medications, whether the person has fallen before, and other fall risks.
For example, diabetics often have poor sensation in their feet, which definitely heightens their fall risk.
People with Parkinson’s disease often shuffle their feet, leading to tripping.
Diseases that effect one’s vision can cause balance deficits.
The National Institute of Health has identified these as risk factors for falls:
- Muscle weakness, especially in the legs
- Poor balance or difficulty walking
- Postural hypotension (blood pressure dropping when you get up) has multiple causes, including diabetes, medications and dehydration
- Any kind of vision problem
- Foot issues, such as numbness, painful feet or even footwear such as backless shoes and high heels
Physical therapy can help minimize the risk of falling by increasing flexibility and strength. Maintaining your muscle strength will reduce your risk of falling from muscle weakness, an extremely common cause of falls in the elderly.
Many of the risks can be reduced by modifying the home environment, from simple things such as keeping clutter to a minimum to adding a bathroom on your main floor. Our interior design team specializes in creating safe home environments.
This is why an individualized home assessment is valuable to you: We are focused on finding the solutions best for your safety and for your budget. It is our mission for you to live Safely and in Style.
Wondering about ways to help prevent yourself or a loved one from falling? Comment or contact us directly at AIP Designs to discuss your options.