Stopping Senior Enemy #1

Foil the falls epidemic; take charge of your safety.

Consider a tale of two women in their mid-60s. Both snagged a high-heel shoe on carpet – one when rushing down stairs to her son’s wedding and the other when heading to her own retirement party. One broke a hip, the other tore up a knee. Since then, neither has been the same.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2.5 million people aged 65 and older are treated in emergency departments because of falls each year.

Falls are a major problem

Falls are Public Enemy No. 1 for Baby Boomers and seniors. Recent statistics by the National Council on Aging (NCOA) show the epic proportions of the falls epidemic on older populations. Falls threaten seniors’ safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs.

Important stats:

  • Falls are the No. 1 cause of fatal injury among older adults.
  • The NCOA reports that every 11 seconds an older adult is seen in an emergency department for a fall-related injury.
  • Every 19 minutes, an older adult dies as the result of a fall.
  • The total cost of fall injuries for older adults may reach $67.7 billion by 2020.

How Wesley Homes promotes falls prevention

While some falls are inevitable, many are preventable. Wesley Homes Home Health Executive Director Melinda Moore said one way to minimize falls is for residents and other clients to enlist the help of a Home Care by Wesley (HCbW) caregiver.

“Caregivers are another set of trained eyes that can facilitate a healthy life by helping to manage wellness,” explained Melinda. “They can help clients stay safe and independent by providing medication reminders, nutritional meal preparation, light housekeeping as well as encouraging physical exercise. Our caregivers often become beloved friends and companions.”

To orchestrate a well-rounded care plan, all potential HCbW clients receive a home assessment that includes evaluating a client’s fall risk factors, such as vision changes, medications and nutrition. Our trained specialist looks at the person’s environment, asks questions and offers suggestions to the client and family. Do they have grab bars in the bathroom? Are throw rugs and electrical cords sprawled in walkways? Is there enough light? What medications and chronic conditions affect the client?

Equipped with this information, their experience and compassion, caregivers can properly assess the situation. “Our goal is to communicate with families, whether they are next door or thousands of miles away,” said Melinda. “We provide a continuum of care with everyone making adjustments to maintain the individual’s safety and wellness.”

Simple steps to prevent falls

At Wesley, we take falls seriously and work to prevent this type of life-changing mishap. We encourage residents and staff of all ages to be aware of how they can take responsibility for preventing falls. Working together with forethought, commitment and sometimes even a little outside caregiver help, we can avoid unnecessary falls and maximize our quality of life and independence.

NCOA suggests we take these steps to prevent falls:

  • Find a good exercise program that improves balance, strength and flexibility.
  • Assess your risk of falls with your healthcare provider.
  • Review your medications, and take them as prescribed.
  • Get your vision and hearing checked annually.
  • Keep your home safe by removing hazards, increasing lighting and installing grab bars.
  • Talk to family; enlist their support to stay safe.
  • Recruit companions or in-home caregivers to help maintain an exercise program or to help with housekeeping, transportation, laundry and other services.

Learn more about falls prevention

“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”
~ Eleanor Roosevelt