2014-01-23 / Lifestyles

CDC offers tips to prevent falls among 65 and older

LANSING – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research reveals one out of three adults, age 65 plus, will annually experience a fall leading to orthopedic challenges, closed head injuries, or even death.

“The slip and fall occurrence rate dramatically increases when winter weather arrives with common sense and caution not being adhered to,” said Michigan State University and Michigan Primary Care Consortium member, Linda J. Keilman, DNP, GNP-BC. “Slips and falls can occur outside, as well as inside a residence, garage, business, house of worship, or related environment.”

Keilman reinforced during the winter it is extremely important to monitor the weather and inform family and friends where your travels will take you. This may be based upon a conversation, email, text, or a daily calendar you maintain at your residence.

When walking or traveling outside, preferably during daylight, she suggests you have an operable telephone or emergency call system with you. In addition, dress for the weather with hat, gloves, quality coat, and shoes or boots with “non slip” soles. Be sure to lace or fully zip up your foot wear and avoid using slip on shoes when conducting outside activity.

If you are using a cane or walker, you should consider adding nonskid pads or using a three-prong cane. And, if you wear glasses or contact lens, be sure to wear them. Don’t forget to wear sunglasses when the day is bright.

Should you have physical limitations with snow or ice removal, please work with your neighbors or friends, house of worship, or the Area Council on Aging to provide assistance.

She also added, when driving in inclement weather it is best to double your travel time and stay on main thoroughfares and roadways. Also, you should store a blanket, extra hat and gloves, flashlight, and roadway flares in your vehicle’s trunk.

When walking outside and the sidewalks feel dangerous, you may consider walking on the covered grassy area adjacent to the sidewalk. When exiting your vehicle be sensitive to the parking lot pavement in that it may be slippery or covered with black ice. Keilman commented, “It’s much safer to move your car to a welllit and marked area vs. taking a chance on slippery pavement.”

Danger and challenges can also lurk when inside your residence. Here are some guidelines to help you

• Avoid small; shifting area or throw rugs

• Hallways, work areas, and stairwells should be well-lit

• Floors, especially wood or ceramic, can become slippery as snow and ice melt indoors

• Remove clutter and barriers in walking areas

• A tub or shower should have a non-slip mat or strips in place and support bars

• Avoid multi-tasking and think clearly as you move

• Consider a daily “check in“ telephone call, email, text, or visit with family or friends

• A hand-held wireless phone, cell phone, or emergency call system should be with you or within easy reach.

Keilman stated, “Review your prescription drug and over-thecounter medications with your health care provider. Some of these may cause equilibrium challenges.” She concluded, “Should you fall and hit your head, please immediately inform your health care provider. A head injury may have occurred.

Centers for Disease Control Fall Statistics

• In 2010, 2.3 million nonfatal fall injuries occurred among mature adults. 662,000 of these individuals were hospitalized.

• Less than half of mature adults who fell reported this to their health care providers.

• In 2013, these falls cost $30 billion in medical care and surgical costs.

• Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.

• The most common mature adult fall fractures are spine, hip, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm, and hand.

• Those age 75 plus are four to five times more likely to fall than those ages 65 to 74.

• Vision loss is a “key” element in causing falls.

The MPCC is a statewide, multistakeholder non-profit corporation leading Michigan’s transformation efforts by ensuring sustainable, quality, and accessible primary care. The Consortium is a leading advocate for the Patient Centered Medical Home approach, as well as with chronic disease prevention. For more information, please visit www.mipcc.org.

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