October 1 is the International Day of Older Persons, a day to recognize their contribution to our communities and offer support for their needs.
The United Nations General Assembly on December 14th, 1990, declared October 1st to be the International Day of Older Persons.
Over 700 million people are now over the age of 60. It is estimated that by 2050, 2 billion people, over 20 percent of the world’s population, will be 60 years old, or older.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that an older adult is treated for a fall in an emergency department every 12 seconds and that every 18 minutes an older adult experiences a fall that results in death. The leading cause of fatal injuries, as well as physical trauma in older adults, is slip and fall accidents. The CDC estimates the cost of adults being injured by slip and fall will increase to over $67 billion by the year 2020.
Keep Older Persons Safe by Preventing Falls
Falls are a common cause of injury for older adults. Fortunately, many of these accidents are avoidable. Learn how to reduce the risks for you and your loved ones so you can enjoy more years of independent living
Learning the Facts About Falls and Older Persons
1. Get familiar with the statistics.
One out of three adults 65 years or older falls each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Up to one-third of these accidents cause serious injury including broken hips or head trauma, and increase the risk of early death.
2. Recognize your risk factors.
The chance of falling increases with age. People with certain conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease or high blood pressure, are also at higher risk. However, you can control many of the causes by changing your lifestyle and installing simple safety aids in your home.
3. Know how to get up correctly.
Even if you do fall, you may be able to minimize the damage by training yourself on how to get up appropriately. If you’re seriously hurt, call for help and remain still. Otherwise, try to fall on your side or buttocks and then rise to a kneeling position from which you can lift yourself onto a chair.
Older Persons Making Behavioral Changes
1. Get your vision tested.
Poor vision can lead to a tumble. Have your eyes checked at least once a year and wear your glasses as directed.
2. Exercise regularly.
Tai Chi or yoga will improve your balance. Walking just 30 minutes a day will strengthen your legs.
3. Take care of your bones.
Any weight-bearing exercise, including walking, will also slow down bone loss. Ensure you get adequate calcium, and vitamin D. Talk with your doctor about osteoporosis.
Manage your medications.
Some drugs cause drowsiness and dizziness. Make sure your doctor and pharmacist know everything you take, including prescriptions and over-the-counter products.
5. Slow down. Rushing can be dangerous.
Get up slowly if you’ve been sitting or lying down for a while.
6. Dress safely.
Look for supportive shoes with thin rubber soles. Keep your bathrobes and pants hemmed.
Seniors who restrict their activities because they are afraid of falling put themselves at greater risk by becoming sedentary. Recruit a loved one or a physical therapist to help you learn to move around safely.
Modifying Surroundings for Older Persons
1. Install grab bars in your bathroom.
Most injuries occur in the bathroom. Add safety bars next to your toilet. Put them in the shower along with a stool.
2. Improve your lighting.
Buy some nightlights. Switch to light bulbs with maximum wattage. Keep a lamp next to your bed. Make sure stairs have adequate lighting from top to bottom.
3. Watch out for slippery floors.
Get rid of area rugs or secure them. You can keep them in place with double-sided tape or non-skid mats.
4. Rework your stairs.
Stairs can be another area of concern. Handrails need to run the full length of the stairs. Attach carpet firmly. Add rubber treads or reflective tape to uncarpeted stairs.
5. Rearrange your cabinets.
Move stuff out of the highest cabinets. If you have to reach for anything, buy a sturdy stool or small A-frame ladder to stand on instead of a chair.
6. Inspect the outside of your home.
Falls also happen outdoors. Repair any uneven surfaces. Clear away debris.
Slip and Fall Claims
It is possible for a slip and fall accident to be nothing more than an accident, but a slip and fall accident can also be the result of a property owner’s negligence. In these situations, it may be necessary for an accident victim to collect damages by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
A property owner has a duty to keep their area of control safe for anyone who goes there. If it can be proven that a property owner breached their duty of care, an older person who falls may be awarded monetary compensation. It must be proven that the breach of care was the cause of a older person’s injuries.
An experienced attorney will know how to file a personal injury lawsuit so that fair compensation can be received by an older person slip and fall accident victim. A lawyer will also be able to determine the damages an older person qualifies to receive.
If you are concerned about your risk of falling, talk with your doctor. There are many practical steps seniors, and their caregivers can take to prevent falls around the home or outdoors. Few are very expensive or time-consuming, either.
Enjoy International Day of Older Persons. Give the ideas above a try, and you’re on your way to a healthier, happier life!