Among the elderly living in Florida, slip and fall accidents constitute a major cause of personal injury. There are many reasons for this. Some seniors have conditions – such as heart disease or diabetes – that affect balance while others are taking medications that can lead to dizziness. Some have problems with hearing, sight, muscle strength, or osteoporosis – all of which can lead to falls or can make falls worse.
For the elderly, a simple slip and fall can result in brain injury, broken bones, fractured hips, spinal cord injury, and much more. Some falls are even fatal, so preventing falls is essential. There are many ways that serious slip and fall accidents can be prevented:
1) Anyone over age 60 should have a bone mineral density test. This can help your physician determine how fragile your bones are. If your bones are not strong, you are more likely to suffer serious problems if you do fall. Your doctor can recommend treatment or medication to build up your bones.
2) Have your hearing and vision tested on a regular basis. If you need hearing aids or glasses, give yourself time to get used to these devices and make sure that you wear them as prescribed. Good hearing and eyesight helps you walk more securely and ensures that you are aware of any dangers.
3) Exercise regularly. Speak to your physician about developing an exercise program and then stick with it. Exercise can help make you more flexible and can improve muscle tone. This makes you less likely to fall. Plus, regular exercise helps prevent osteoporosis, so that if you do fall, you are less likely to break a bone.
4) Drink less alcohol. Even small amounts of alcohol can make you more prone to falling.
5) Check your medication. Some medications can cause side effects – such as grogginess or dizziness – that can make you more likely to fall. If this is the case for your medication, talk to your doctor about ways to offset these side effects or ways that you can prevent falls.
6) Avoid extremes. A home that is too cold or too hot can make you feel dizzy and weak. Keep your home temperature steady with a heater or an air-conditioner in summer.
7) Check your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is low, be carefully about standing up too quickly – this can cause your blood pressure to drop even more, which can make you dizzy.
8) Wear the right gear. Wear low-heeled, rubber-soled shoes that fit well and provide plenty of support for your feet. This can help prevent falls. If you need them, use a walker, walking stick, or cane to help you stay steadier on your feet. These devices can be especially useful on slippery surfaces, uneven sidewalks, and other problem areas. Talk to your doctor to ensure that you can get fitted for the correct device.
9) Avoid dangers. On stairs, use handrails. In the bathroom, use grab bars. Avoid slippery surfaces and ladders. Consider getting a “reach stick” rather than climbing up on a chair or ladder to get something on a high shelf. Your local hardware store or most medical supply store will have several devices – such as reach sticks or grab bars – that can help you avoid situations where you are likely to fall.
10) Consider a home monitoring system service. These devices will not help prevent a fall, but can help ensure that you can get help quickly if you do fall. These alarm systems include a small button that is worn around the neck. If you fall, you simply push the button and help is sent to your home.