News & Announcements

July 9, 2020

“Even The Best Fall Down Sometimes.”

                                                                                                                                                Howie Day

Falling seems to take no time and forever to pass before you land. Here are some facts about home falls in Virginia and how you can help yourself and your home become safer.

Woman's lower legs tripping over fur rug

Virginia Home Fall Facts

Nearly 50,000 Virginians are hospitalized each year for falls that occur in their homes. With the pandemic forcing more to stay at home time this year, that number is expected to rise. Head injuries and hip fractures lead the list of most common fall injuries, leading to over $500,000 billed from fall-related hospitalizations (for a median charge per episode of $23,015). Fall accident victims spend an average of 5 days in the hospital and between 2 – 6 months in rehabilitation.

While 78% of fall victims are usually over the age of 65 and account for 83% of fall-related fatalities, those under 65 are still at risk. Falls are the number one cause of death nationwide for people over the age of 65, but those in the 34-65 age range suffer fall-related injuries 40-50% of the time they go down. [1]

A great many indoor falls occur in the bathroom, but the kitchen, bedroom, dining room, and on the stairs are also common areas for a tumble. Most falls occur during the day with only 20% at night. Of those at night, most happen between 9 pm and 7 am, perhaps when people wake up to use the bathroom. [2]

Another interesting fact about home falls? Women tend to fall in the house, men in the garden or yard.

What You Can Do to Lower Your Fall Risk

Physically

Research has identified many conditions that contribute to falling. The “risk factors” can quickly be addressed to help lessen your chances of a fall. Logically, the more risk factors you have, the more likely you’ll fall. You can consult with your healthcare provider for ways to modify or change them. [3]

  • Lower body weakness.
  • Vitamin D deficiency (that is, not enough vitamin D in your system).
  • Difficulties with walking and balance.
  • Use of medicines, such as tranquilizers, sedatives, or antidepressants. Even some over-the-counter medicines can affect balance and steadiness.
  • Vision problems.
  • Foot pain or poor footwear.
  • Hydration.

Home Modifications

Home hazards or dangers such as broken or uneven steps, and throw rugs or clutter that can be tripped over. Whether you have none, any, or all of these risk factors, here are simple ways to make your home safer if you are not as fleet of foot as you used to be:

  • Modify slippery surfaces and remove hazards whenever possible.
  • Avoid loose rugs or use double-sided tape to keep rugs in place.
  • Improve lighting in the home. Turn on the lights when entering a dark room or house. Install night lights or motion-activated lights in hallways.
  • Place non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors.
  • Remove clutter such as magazines, books, boxes, and pet gear that can lead to tripping. Navigating around extra furniture can also increase your fall risk. Sell or donate unneeded pieces.
  • Keep wires and cords behind furniture. Tape or tack them in place if needed.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise increases strength and balance, lessening the likelihood of a fall. Focus on your core muscles and legs.
  • Have your vision evaluated by a professional. Poor vision increases the chance of falling.
  • Install handrails and lights in staircases.
  • Install grab bars next to toilets and tubs or showers.
  • Either go barefoot, wear shoes, or wear slip-resistant slippers at all times. Do not walk around in socks or stockings.
  • Review all medicines with a health care provider. The physical effects of some medications— or combination of medicines—can change, causing drowsiness or lightheadedness.
  • Take time to get your balance when first standing up. Being rushed or distracted dramatically increases the risk of falling.
  • Stay hydrated. Dehydration causes dizziness and loss of balance.
  • Use a cane or walker if necessary. Who is going to know but you?

On a final note, in case you do fall and are injured, always carry a cell phone with you so you can call for help.

What other fall-prevention steps have you taken to stay safe at home? We’d love to hear from you!

 

[1] National Institutes of Health
[2] who.int
[3] STEADI.com
Other Sources: Vdh.virginia.gov, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov