Just like the Boy Scouts, we all need to “Be Prepared.” Each June, the National Safety Council sponsors National Safety Month and encourages people to reduce risks in their surroundings.
Throughout National Safety Month in June, each week has a different theme to focus on:
- Week 1: Prevent prescription drug abuse
- Week 2: Stop slips, trips and falls
- Week 3: Be aware of your surroundings
- Week 4: Put an end to distracted driving
- Bonus week: Summer safety
The overall theme for National Safety Month is “Safety: It takes all of us” and the idea behind it is continuous risk reduction. The National Safety Council states, “A successful safety program depends on spotting hazards early, evaluating their risk and removing or controlling them before harm is done. A little effort today has the potential to prevent tragedy tomorrow.”
Assess Your Risk
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the leading cause of death and injuries in Americans over the age of 65:
- Twenty to thirty percent of people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries such as lacerations, hip fractures, or head traumas.5,6 These injuries can make it hard to get around or live independently, and increase the risk of early death.
- Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
- In 2000, 46% of fatal falls among older adults were due to TBI.
- Most fractures among older adults are caused by falls. The most common are fractures of the spine, hip, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm, and hand.
- Many people who fall, even if they are not injured, develop a fear of falling. This fear may cause them to limit their activities, which leads to reduced mobility and loss of physical fitness, and in turn increases their actual risk of falling.
- While this sounds frightening--and falls can impact the ability for seniors to live independently-- the good news is that there are opportunities to decrease the risk of falls in and around the home.
Starting right now you can take these simple steps:
- Get a free in-home falls risk assessment from a home care company
- Download the Homewatch CareGivers Guide to In-Home Senior Safety
- Implement falls prevention tips from the National Safety Council website
For yourself or a loved one, start by going room to room looking for potential hazards. In general look for these typical features that might make a home less safe:
- Dim lighting
- Loose throw rugs
- Old batteries in safety devices and alarms
- Extension cords
- Slick surfaces
- Lack of a safety plan for emergencies
- Take Steps Toward Safety
There are many ways to prevent falls in the older population, in addition to make changes in and around the home. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people should consider these measures to also reduce their risk of falls:
- Exercise regularly to improve leg strength and balance. No marathon training required! Low-impact yoga and Tai Chi can provide all the necessary benefits.
- Have a doctor of pharmacist review medications that may have side effect such as dizziness or drowsiness.
- Get an eye exam annually or as frequently as needed to update prescriptions and to check for any changes in vision.
- Consider adding grab bars in the bathroom as well as stairway railings and eliminate tripping hazards
Safety requires regular assessments of one’s current abilities and their surroundings. Talk with a loved one today about your safety concerns.