Slip and fall accidents are funny when they happen on comedy shows or in cartoons, but in real life they can be deadly serious. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of five falls causes a serious injury, and every year 2.5 million older Americans require emergency room treatment as a result of a fall – 700,000 of them require hospitalization, usually because they have either fractured their hip or suffered a head injury. Even more frightening is the fact that falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injury. At Bratton Scott Attorneys at Law, we believe that the best way to treat a fall is to prevent it from happening entirely. With the national observance of Fall Prevention Day approaching, we are happy to provide these valuable tips on fall prevention.
The first thing to understand in order to prevent falls is what causes them. In many cases, people fall because they are taking medication that disorients them or throws off their balance. If you are taking heart medication, diuretics, blood pressure pills, pain relievers or muscle relaxants, or sleeping pills, it is important for you to understand their impact on you and exercise extreme caution. The same is true if you have been drinking alcohol, which can slow your reflexes and make you less likely to observe hazards that are in your path. Beyond these issues, people fall as a result of obstacles or hazards including:
- Clutter on the floor
- Ice or water on the floor
- Floors that are slippery as a result of being highly polished
- High heeled shoes
- Walking in socks or stockings
- Rugs without skid-proof backs
- Stairways and walkways without appropriate lighting
- Lack of grab bars in showers and tubs
- Lack of non-skid mats in tubs or showers
- Poorly lit rooms
- Loose cords on floors
The elderly are particularly prone to falling, and these falls can have disastrous results. Those who have fallen before are more likely to fall again. If you or a loved one has suffered a fall, it is a good idea to schedule a meeting with your physician or one of our care managers to identify risks that may be specific to them and to come up with fall prevention strategies. There may be an undiagnosed disorder involving vision, hearing or balance that can be addressed.
The other important thing that you can do to reduce your risk of falling is to get more exercise. The better your mobility, strength, and endurance, the less likely it is that you will suffer a fall. Exercise does not need to involve a great deal of exertion for it to be an effective fall preventative. Walking, swimming, and tai chi all help strength and balance, and also reduce your risk of injury if you do suffer a fall.
At Bratton Scott, our care coordinators provide each client with an in-house assessment to identify fall hazards and help reduce risk with safety recommendations. We are dedicated to estate planning, elder law, and the well-being of our clients. For information on how we can help you plan for the future, contact us today.