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Fri, May 24

How to address fall prevention for older adults

Every year, more than one out of four adults — age 65 or older — fall, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those who fall, more than 800,000 are hospitalized because of injuries, usually to the head or hip.

“Once a person experiences a fall, it can limit mobility and independence,” says Karen Russell, PTA and Community Liaison at Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital. “This in turn decreases the individual’s ability to perform everyday tasks. And even if a fall doesn’t result in an injury, it can still cause fear in an individual, which can hinder his or her independence.”

Russell says rehabilitation can be beneficial for someone who has experienced a fall. Rehabilitation can help a person regain strength, alleviate pain, and recover other abilities that are essential to overall well-being and independence. In addition, physical therapy plays a key role in helping to prevent future falls by improving movement, balance, and agility.

Common causes of falls may include:

-A decline in physical fitness

-Impaired vision


-Chronic diseases

-Surgical procedures

-Environmental hazards.

“A majority of falls in the elderly population occur in or around the home,” Russell says. “These can be caused by poor lighting, clutter, loose carpets, slick floors, and lack of safety equipment.”

To help prevent falls at home, Russell suggests following home modification tips:

• Keep rooms free from clutter

• Install handrails, grab bars and shower mats, remove throw rugs

• Light up dark areas of the home

• Remove or tape down any loose carpets or electrical wires

• Ensure telephones can be easily reached from the floor

• Replace chairs that are too low to the ground or difficult to get out of

• Install night lights throughout the home, especially in bathrooms and stairwells

“In addition to home modifications, a change in wardrobe also can help prevent falls,” Russell says. “Wear sensible, non-slip footwear and avoid wearing loose clothing. Make sure to also talk with your family and care providers about your falling risks.”


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