Every second of every day in the United States an elderly person falls—making falls the number one cause of injuries (and deaths from injury) among older Americans. It’s estimated that falls cause the death of approximately 27,000 seniors each year.
Twenty-nine million falls were reported in 2014 causing seven million injuries and costing an estimated $31 billion in annual Medicare costs, according to a new report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“Older adult falls are increasing and, sadly, often herald the end of independence,” says CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D. “Healthcare providers can make fall prevention a routine part of care in their practice, and older adults can take steps to protect themselves.”
With more than 10,000 Americans turning 65 each day, the number of fall-related injuries and deaths is expected to surge—unless preventive measures are taken.
It Can Happen to You
While many people assume falling down the stairs will never happen to them, statistics say otherwise. Most falls occur at home on the stairs and seniors who suffer a fall are likely to fall into one of these statistics:
- Of seniors who sustain a fall-related injury, 50% are discharged to a nursing home rather than returning to their home.
- Of those who fall down the stairs, 25% fracture a hip which may require lifelong nursing care.
Falls, with or without injury, can have a direct impact on quality of life. A growing number of folks fear falling and, as a result, limit their activities and social engagements. This unfortunate decision can result in further physical decline, depression, social isolation, and feelings of helplessness. This need not be the case as a few practical lifestyle and home adjustments can dramatically lower the risk of a fall.
Take Preventative Steps
Reduce tripping hazards in the home by replacing or removing furnishings that can result in falls, including rugs, small tables such as magazine racks, standing coat racks, or unstable furniture.
Increase the home’s lighting by choosing brighter light bulbs to increase visibility and use night lights when possible in the rooms in which you spend the most time. The AARP suggests leaving a light on in the bathroom so you reduce the risk of a fall on those middle-of-the-night trips to the toilet. Adding grab bars to showers, tubs, and alongside the toilet can greatly reduce bathroom-related falls.
When it comes to the greatest risk in your home—the stairs—nobody likes to admit they need help moving around their own home. It’s hard to own up to the fact that you can’t get around like you used to, but you can’t simply stop using the second story of your home!
Consider a Stairlift
Poor balance, arthritis, stiffening joints, and many other medical conditions can make using the stairs a tricky proposition—you risk serious injury if you continue to go up and down the stairs unassisted. The right time to fit a stairlift really depends on your current and future needs. If your staircase has started to cause you or a loved one problems, and you find that you can no longer move around your home like you used to, it would be a good idea to take a look at the options open to you.
Most modern stairlifts can easily and quickly be installed to a straight staircase—usually completed in just a few hours. And, the price is quite reasonable…especially when the alternative is selling your home or being forced to move into an assisted living facility.
Consider just a few of the benefits to installing a stair lift in your home:
Freedom: With a stairlift, you can forgo a move and once again enjoy the freedom to use your entire house, obstacle-free.
Safety: Most stairlifts have built-in safety features that will prevent operation if the device faces an obstruction on the stairs, or if the seat, footrest, or armrests are not in their proper positions. You can also use the lock switch to prevent anyone else from using the chair, especially children.
Comfort: The seat and armrests are padded and adjustable, which allows for optimal comfort. The footrest can also be easily adapted to your desired height.
Accessibility: Because of their slim profiles, most stairlifts don’t block access to the rest of the staircase. The chair and footrest will usually fold away so it will not be a hindrance for other people who will need to access the stairs.
Ease of Use: Today’s stairlifts are easily controlled by a toggle located on the armrest. Many are also manufactured with a remote-control handset so you can call the stair lift from the top or bottom of the stairs. The stairlift also charges when it’s in the park position, so it’s ready to use whenever you need it. And, in case power loss, each stair lift has a built-in battery backup system.
For more information on residential and commercial elevators, stairlifts, vertilifts, ramps, and more, visit www.liftavator.com or call (252) 634-1717 today.
(Sources: National Council on Aging; AARP; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; World Health Organization; Modern Senior; CaringForAgingParents.com; and SeniorAdvisor.com.)