September 23rd marks the start of fall season and falls prevention month. It’s also a special day set aside to sensitize the general public on the many ways of reducing and preventing falls in seniors.
Falls occur for a couple of reasons. Sometimes a problem with their balance/gait, reduced bone and muscle strength, impaired vision, depression, and in more complicated cases the impact of several health issues, predispose them to falling more often.
More than half of all fall cases in older adults are however resultant from external factors in the environment. It follows that addressing these factors will conversely cause a drastic reduction in the incidence of falls.
How can this be achieved?
The most pragmatic way reduce the impacts falls have on elderly people is to identify the many risk factors and then provide simple but highly effective solutions. Risk factors in the environment may range from;
Poor furniture arrangement; leading to blockage of routes and passages
Poor lighting; when lighting is too low, too bright or improperly placed it can make it harder for older adults to detect obstacles blocking their path
Flooring; like lighting, poor flooring conditions /uneven or slippery floors/ makes the navigation process tedious for seniors.
Often a simple change, like improving the lighting/flooring conditions or changing the furniture arrangement, can go a long way in reducing the impacts of falls on our lovable seniors. That being said, contributing to help end the scourge of falls, however, goes past this.
Every 17 seconds at least one older adult is admitted into the emergency room as a result of a fall-related accident. In 29 mins another older adult will die from injuries sustained in a fall. That’s 29 of our beloved elderly companions, the same ones that cared for us through our formative years, dead in the short span of a day. Sure, the hospital will do their best to treat falls, but curbing its alarming effect on our society goes past treatment. If an adult survives a fall, he or she is 2x or 3x more predisposed to falling again, and often this leads to an even worse injury or outright fatality. So how can we make an impact?
Contributing your quota
Fall prevention day presents an opportunity for us to cast a shining light on the often overlooked case of falls as it concerns the elderly. In the words of Kathy Cameron, senior director of the National Falls Prevention Center at NCOA
‘Falls Prevention Day is an opportunity to take a look at the world around us, be aware of falls hazards, and think about how we can make changes that will help our parents, grandparents, aging neighbors, and even ourselves safe from falls.’
The elderly are an integral section of our society. They cared for us when we were younger and provided for our basic necessities. Remember your childhood days, when grandma would dote on you, shower you with all the goodies and everything else that made you feel special? Sure you do! By raising awareness of their plight, we are contributing to improving their overall quality of living much like they’ve positively impacted our lives so far.
Older friends and relations are more experienced in life than us and for centuries past their knowledge and wisdom have formed the bedrocks of our society. Their advice remains invaluable to us, and overall there is still a whole lot to learn from their experiences.
They are also generous givers, contributing more significantly to the foundation and sustenance of charity groups and initiatives than virtually every other age group. And because most of them are in retirement, they also dedicate more time to volunteer for community services.
Fall Remembrance Day is a time to give back to these amazing set of individuals who have selflessly contributed to making our lives a more than pleasant experience. It’s a token of appreciation, one that ensures we continue to see more of their cheerful faces.
We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or share your tips for preventing falls.