Becoming More Emotional in Old Age
INTERESTING STUFF – 21 March 2020

Falls Prevention – March 2020

Long-time readers of TGB probably yawn when they see this headline about falls prevention. I do it twice a year because falls are so serious for elders but at the same time, relatively easy to prevent. It's that time of year again so here goes. Please take a moment or two to refresh your knowledge.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tells us, via caring.com,

”...falls among older adults are extremely common with an estimated 2.5 million older adults treated for fall injuries in the U.S. every year.

“An estimated 25,000 of those fall injuries result in death. Justifiably so, our research showed that 8 out of 10 caregivers are worried about fall prevention for their loved ones.”

Now that many of us are stuck at home due to COVID-19, we can make good use of some of that time be sure our homes are, as much as possible, fall-proof.

I'll repeat some of my usual suggestions and ideas below but first, here is a new item - a reliable, well-researched, up-to-date guide to the best medical alert systems for 2020 from caring.com. As explained on the website,

”Medical alert systems allow seniors to retain their independence at home and in their communities, while minimizing the risk of further injury or death from falling [and] being unable to receive immediate help.

“While there are many quality, above-board companies in the home medical alert industry, there are also those that are overpriced, misleading or profiting from hidden fees.

“We’ve created this review to shed light on the top home medical alert options so that seniors and their loved ones can easily choose a reputable and affordable home medical alert company that works for them.”

Here are caring.com's top eight choices with reasons for their recommendation:

Medical Guardian – Best for Premium Features
MobileHelp – Best for Those Without a Landline
LifeFone – Best Standalone Mobile App
Life Alert – Best for Industry Experience and At Saving Lives
Bay Alarm Medical – Best for Low Monitoring Costs
Medical Care Alert – Best for EMT/EMD Certified Monitoring
QMedic – Best for Compliance and Activity Monitoring
BoomerAlert – Best For Advanced Fall Detection

It's not just a list at caring.com. They provide initial prices for each service and monthly cost for monitoring, how and why they chose each service, pros and cons of each service and more.

So if you or someone you know is considering a falls monitoring service (or should), certainly check out caring.com.

In last September's falls prevention story, several people mentioned the risk of falling that pets and small children can cause. I don't know a solution for people who have pets, but I have had a personal run-in with a kid running at top speed at the entrance to a hospital.

He nearly knocked over a man in wheelchair and almost crashed into me. But his mother did nothing to slow him down or stop him.

It's been about two years since that happened but when I'm in public, I am still warily watching for and nervous about free-range children especially since parents seem to take no heed of their kids' behavior in crowds. (I am well aware that I sound like a “get-off-my-lawn” old man, but I'm only reporting what is, in my experience.)

So, here is a general overview of the things you can do to help fall-proof your home.

There is an excellent website about fall prevention that I had not seen before last fall: Health in Aging.org. It is extraordinarily clear, concise and useful. Here are links to the main sections:

Basic Facts

Causes

Diagnosis and Tests

Care and Treatment

Lifestyle and Management

Unique to Older Adults

That is not the only good site on this subject - there is an abundance of information online about falls prevention. We should make good use of it because unlike cancer, dementia, COPD, heart disease and other conditions that affect so many elders, we can each have a direct effect on preventing falls.

Comments

Wonderful information, thank you Ronnie. I've had a medical alert system for several years. My local sheriff's dept coupled with another local agency has a daily telephone check in service for free. I've done everything to make my home safe. Never had small scatter rugs, bathing area has installed hand "grabbers". I'm fortunate that in a fairly big house, I have one floor living with master suite on first floor. When my late hubby and I were looking for a new home many years ago, we thought that nice but it wasn't the reason we bought the property. We bought it because we loved sailing and property is on water 😊I now enjoy the peacefulness of being outside, no sailing. Be well, be safe, be happy all!

Wonderful information! I would add that if anyone is going through physical therapy for a fall or pain to please do your exercises at home while PT is in force and after. I’ve talked with physical therapists about the lack of continuation of exercises when folks are home and they shake their heads and say many discontinue and lose strength and fall again or the pain comes back. This is lifelong exercise and my guess is that laziness sets in. So unnecessary!

Terrific post and links, thank you.

So that's another tip to prevent falls: do not accept heavy or awkward objects that someone wants you to carry or hold, because they can imbalance you and then you might fall. Happened to my mother; from an active person with excellent quality of life to a year in a nursing home.

Living in Mexico, my greatest falling risks are wet tile floors and cobblestone streets. I've got the usual things pretty much under control, but the best I can do with wet slippery floors is grab bars and dryng off in the shower. And am acquiring a nice collection of canes for help with balance on the streets and sidewalks. A fashion accessory!

Always a good reminder. Children who are allowed to run free are a danger and annoying to me for which I blame the parents. I have on occasion uttered “stop running” in the store to some racing mindlessly through store aisles with parents god only knows where. You’d think they’d been turned loose on a playground and this has been my attitude since I was a young woman, before I wed and had children of my own.

I took a wee bit of a tumble some weeks ago, as my foot slipped inside my doorway and my other legs knee bent but not locked in position I could sense allowed me to slide down gently on to my tush. Nothing broken but that one ankle/foot operated at less than optimum performance for a few weeks. Took me an undue amount of time after scooting further into house before being able to get up.

I always carry my cell phone in a pocket in the house, even when I get up at night to visit the BR, and everywhere I go as my means of making emergency contact if needed. That assumes I would be capable of dialing 911.

Act now, live responsibly and collectively and self isolate to flatten the curve.

How are things now in Oregon, Ronnie? I am hearing it is bad and thinking of you. I heard it is in lock down which is sensible and crucial.

Stay well everyone and at home,

Karin

Falls prevention. Somehow I missed this post. I had a scary and depressing episode that lasted a few weeks in regard to balance. I was thinking this must be the beginning of the end of my elderly robustness setting me up, sooner than later, for a much less dynamic retirement. I thought about it and researched it and finally I found an answer that greatly improved the situation: Vitamin D supplements. I have always had off the charts Vitamin D levels and I never paid attention to it until this balance issue surfaced. I started a rapid replenishment program and raised my levels sufficiently to bounce back and all but eliminate the balance issue, and at the same time, help to avoid falls. Now all systems go.

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