National Safety Month Focuses on Preventing Slips, Trips & Falls among Older Adults

National Safety Month - Focus on Preventing Trips, Slips & Falls among Older Adults (image from NSC poster for National Safety Month)June has been designated “National Safety Month,” an annual observance sponsored by the National Safety Council (NSC), a non-profit organization, “to increase awareness of the top causes of preventable injuries and deaths and to encourage safe behaviors.”

Each week in June “carries a theme that brings attention to a critical safety issue,” the NSC explains on its website for National Safety Month 2012.

The third week of June has been designated to focus on preventing slips, trips, and falls.

“Falls are one of the leading causes of unintentional injuries in the United States, accounting for approximately 8.9 million visits to the emergency department annually,” according to the NSC (NSC Injury Facts 2011).

“Adults 55 and older are more prone to becoming victims of falls, and the resulting injuries can diminish the ability to lead active, independent lives. The number of fall deaths among those 65 and older is four times the number of fall deaths among all other age groups,” the NSC reports.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), “Among older adults (those 65 or older), falls are the leading cause of injury death. They are also the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma.” “One out of three adults age 65 and older falls each year, but less than half talk to their healthcare providers about it,” according to the CDC.

But, the good news, according to the CDC, is that “the opportunity to reduce falls among older adults has never been better. Today, there are proven interventions that can reduce falls and help older adults live better, and longer.”

Tips to Help Older Adults Prevent Slips, Trips, and Falls

Here are some tips to help older adults prevent slips, trips, and falls provided by the CDC, which are also referenced in a Fact Sheet on “Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls,” provided by the NSC:

  • Exercise regularly. It is important that the exercises focus on increasing leg strength and improving balance, and that they get more challenging over time. Tai Chi programs, as well as walking and yoga, are especially good.
  • Review Your Medications. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medicines—both prescription and over-the counter—to identify medicines that may cause side effects or interactions such as dizziness or drowsiness.
  • Check Your Vision. Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year and update your eyeglasses to maximize your vision. Poor vision greatly increases your risk of falling. Consider getting a pair of glasses with single vision distance lenses for some activities such as walking outside.
  • Fall-Proof Your Home. Make your home safer by reducing tripping hazards, adding grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower and next to the toilet, adding stair railings and improving the lighting in your home.

The CDC also suggests that “To lower their hip fracture risk, older adults can:

  • Get adequate calcium and vitamin D—from food and/or from supplements.
  • Do weight bearing exercise.
  • Get screened and treated for osteoporosis.

Tips on How to Fall-Proof Your Home & Your Senior Loved One’s Home

The CDC in conjunction with MetLife Foundation provides an 8 page Home Fall Prevention Checklist for Older Adults, which can be printed out as a PDF document.

In addition, here are some tips from the NSC’s Fact Sheet on how you and your senior loved one can Remove Common Fall Hazards from your home and your life:

  • Keep floors and stairs clean and clear of clutter
  • Maintain good lighting both indoors and on outdoor walkways
  • Secure electrical and phone cords out of traffic areas
  • Use non-skid throw rugs in potentially slippery places, like bathrooms
  • Install handrails on stairways, including porches
  • Use a sturdy step stool when climbing or reaching for high places
  • Clean up all spills immediately
  • Wear sensible footwear
  • Never stand on a chair, table or surface on wheels
  • Arrange furniture to provide open pathways to walk through
  • Periodically, check the condition of outdoor walkways and steps and repair as necessary
  • Remove fallen leaves or snow from outdoor walkways
  • Be aware that alcohol or other drugs, including prescription and over-the-counter. Medicine, can affect your balance and increase risk of falling

More Information

See related HelpingYouCare™ reports on:

Prevent Falls by Older Adults

New Study: Can Twice Weekly Ballroom Dancing Prevent Falls in Elderly?

Some Vertigo Associated with Migranes

Vitamin E Supplements May Weaken Bones, New Mouse Study Suggests

Joint Health and Preventing Fractures (Video from Cleveland Clinic)

Fall prevention: 6 ways to reduce your falling risk (from the Mayo Clinic)

For more information on falls among older adults, see the CDC website on Falls Among Older Adults: An Overview.

See also the National Safety Counsel (NSC) website for more information on Slips, Trips, and Falls, including a list of common locations for falls, fall prevention tips.

For more information on falls, fractures, and mobility loss, see the HelpingYouCare™ resource pages on Falls/ Fractures/ Mobility Loss, including:

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