A large amount of orthopedic related injuries are a direct result of slips, trips, and falls that patients sustain while in their homes. Consequently, falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans. With Emergency Departments treating over 2.8 million fall related injuries annually and roughly 800,000 fall-related hospitalizations occurring every year, fall prevention is a noteworthy cause.
With or without injury, falls often lead to the fear of falling, which negatively impacts seniors’ quality of life. Social engagements and functions are sadly avoided due to fear, which leads to isolation, depression, and physical decline.
Unfortunately, a staggering one in four Americans over the age of 65 fall every year. However, there are many effective strategies available to help reduce this alarming statistic and achieve an environment that poses fewer fall hazards.
Most Falls Can be Prevented
1. Review your medication list with your doctor to identify side effects and interactions that could increase your fall risk
.2. Have your vision checked annually. It is imperative that you have the proper eye wear and are using a current vision prescription.
3. Stay physically active. Exercise helps by improving strength, coordination, and balance.
4. Wear properly fitting shoes. Think sturdy shoes with nonskid soles.
5. Declutter floors. Examples include removing electrical cords, moving furniture away from high traffic areas, repairing loose flooring, and removing rugs from your home.
6. Make sure you have adequate lighting in all rooms. This includes ensuring a clear path to light switches, placing a lamp at your bedside, and even exchanging regular switches for glow-in-the dark or illuminated switches.
7. Use assistant devices recommended by your doctor, such as handrails in the hallways, a raised toilet seat, and of course a walker or cane.
If you find yourself in a situation where you have fallen, it is important to remain as calm as you can. You can start by taking a few deep breaths and stay on the floor until the sense of shock has eased.
Evaluate for injuries to avoid further injury from getting up too quickly. If you are able to get to a place of safety, roll over on to your side and gradually get on to your hands and knees and crawl to a sturdy chair.
Raise yourself to kneeling position and turn your body to sit in the chair. If you are alone, crawl to the phone and call 911, then find a comfortable position and wait for help to arrive.
It is encouraged to carry a cell phone or wear a medical necklace when alone in your home.
Abby Pollock, MSN, FNP-C
Nurse Practitioner to Suzanne Elton, MD and J. Clint Walker, MD
Abby began working at Kansas City Bone & Joint Clinic in April, 2018 and works alongside her supervising physicians Dr. Suzanne Elton and Dr. J. Clinton Walker, both board certified upper extremity specialists. She graduated Cum Laude from Pittsburg State University with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and became a Registered Nurse in 2010. She then spent the next eight years as a circulator nurse in both hospital and surgery center operating rooms. In 2018 she graduated Summa Cum Laude from Walden University with a Master of Science in Nursing and became a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner.
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