The National Council on Aging will be sponsoring the eighth annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day on September 23, 2015, which also happens to be the first day of fall. The National Council on Aging’s theme of this year’s Falls Prevention Awareness Day is “Take a Stand to Prevent Falls.”
The 2014 version of Falls Prevention Awareness Day was a resounding success; the campaign reached more than 12 million people during the official activities. Moreover, the U.S. Senate even passed a resolution designating September 23, 2014 as National Falls Prevention Awareness Day. The resolution specifically called for continued efforts from organizations, businesses, individuals and national, state and local governments to reduce the incidence of falls among older adults throughout the United States.
Falls Prevention Awareness in New Jersey
The 2015 version of Falls Prevention Awareness Day will be observed in 48 states, with New Jersey taking the day particularly seriously. In fact, NJ Gov. Chris Christie issued an official proclamation declaring Sept. 21 through Sept. 27 as Fall Prevention Awareness Week in New Jersey. The proclamation was issued in recognition of the unique dangers and health risks faced by the 1.7 million NJ residents who are 60 years of age or older.
According to statistics compiled by the National Council on Aging, one third of elderly people in the U.S. will experience a fall this year. The likelihood of a serious fall accident is even greater for seniors over the age 80; half of these senior citizens will suffer a fall in 2015. The reality is that an elderly adult visits an emergency room every 13 seconds to deal with a fall-related injury, according to the Council. These injuries are often catastrophic. Falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries among senior citizens in the United States.
Dangers of Fall Accidents for Elderly People
Whether you are an elderly adult, a caregiver, or a friend or family member who is worried about the health of your loved one, it is important for you to make yourself aware of the dangers of slip & fall accidents. A slip & fall accident can have serious repercussions for anyone. Beyond the obvious physical injuries and medical costs, a slip and fall victim is more likely to suffer from depression as they deal with the sudden loss of mobility immediately after the accident and during their recovery process.
Tragically, falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths for elderly residents of New Jersey. According to the Center for Health Statistics, more than 400 older NJ residents died due to an unintentional fall in 2013. Across the United States, an older adult dies every 20 minutes as a result of a fall accident.
Senior Citizens are at the Greatest Risk of Fall-Related Injuries
There is a heightened risk of serious fall accidents for senior citizens who may lack physical strength in certain areas of their bodies and who may suffer from chronic health conditions or illnesses. Additionally, seniors may have a harder time seeing hazards due to reduced vision or poor eyesight. The increased risk of fall-related injuries for elderly people makes it all the more important for New Jersey residents, both young and old, to take notice of Falls Prevention Awareness Day this year.
If you are concerned with falling yourself, or with a loved one taking a tumble, there are many things you can do in an effort to make your surroundings safer. According to the CDC, following some home safety tips and body strengthening exercises can keep you, and your elderly loved ones, walking tall.
Keeping Your Home Safe: Fall Prevention Tips:
- Make sure all handrails on staircases are sturdy (don’t forget railings that lead up to your front door!)
- Secure all staircases and any loose floorboards that can become a tripping hazard.
In the same way, make sure that rugs don’t bunch up (use double sided tape) and that wall to wall carpeting is taut.
Don’t leave items where they can become tripping hazards. Shoes, books and clothing on steps may save you the trip at the moment, but they are a possible accident waiting to happen.
- Install safety equipment in bathrooms and kitchens. Grab bars near the toilet and shower/tub are very helpful. Use mats in the shower and tub to stop slip and falls. A step stool in the kitchen or anywhere you may have to reach into a cabinet can prevent falls.
- Improve the lighting inside your home and make sure the outside is well-lit. Consider motion detector lights for around the front door and walkway.
On a More Personal Note:
- Exercise keeps you limber and strengthens legs and arms to prevent falling. Many programs even improve balance.
- Many people have to take medications on a regularly basis. If you must take a drug that has a “dizziness” or “fatigue” side effect, be mindful of your activities when you are feeling those effects. Pay close attention to drug interactions as well. Talk to the doctor or pharmacist about your concerns.
- The eyes have it! It should almost go without saying that it’s easy to trip over something you can’t see. So, in addition to making sure the area is well-lit, make sure to get your vision checked often and wear your glasses or contacts if you need them.
If you are concerned about the safety of your loved one, contact Bratton Scott to discuss a home assessment. The experienced attorneys and care coordinators at Bratton Scott are passionate about helping residents of South Jersey and their elderly relatives with all areas of elder law and life care planning.