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Safe Walking & Fall Prevention

Each year, millions of people over 65 fall. In fact, one out of three older people photo happy older couple walking in nature using handrail for safetyfalls each year. Falling once doubles a person’s chances of falling again.

Falls Are Serious and Costly

  • One out of five falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones or a head injury.
  • 2.5 million people are treated each in emergency departments for fall injuries.
  • Over 700,000 patients a year are hospitalized because of a fall injury, most often because of a head injury or hip fracture.
  • Each year at least 250,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures.
  • More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling, usually by falling sideways.
  • Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
  • Adjusted for inflation, the direct medical costs for fall injuries are $34 billion annually.

What Conditions Make You or a Loved One More Likely to Fall?

Many conditions contribute to falling and are called risk factors. It’s important to understand risk factors because many can be changed or modified to help prevent falls. Fall risk factors include:

  • Lower body weakness
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Difficulties with walking and balance
  • Use of medicines, such as tranquilizers, sedatives, or antidepressants, and even some over-the-counter medicines can affect balance and how steady you are on your feet.
  • Vision problems
  • Foot pain or poor footwear
  • Home hazards or dangers such as
    • broken or uneven steps,
    • throw rugs or clutter that can be tripped over, and
    • no handrails along stairs or in the bathroom.

Most falls are caused by a combination of risk factors. The more risk factors a person has, the greater their chances of falling.

Healthcare providers and sometimes family members can help cut down a person’s risk by reducing the fall risk factors listed above.

What You Can Do to Prevent You or Your Loved One from Falling

Most falls can be prevented. Below are some simple things you can do to keep yourself or a loved one from falling.

older adult talking to her doctor about fall prevention
Talk to Your Doctor
  • Ask your doctor or healthcare provider to evaluate your risk for falling and talk with them about specific things you can do.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medicines to see if any might make you dizzy or sleepy. This should include prescription medicines and over-the counter medicines.
  • Ask your doctor or healthcare provider about testing you for vitamin D deficiency and taking a supplement with calcium.
  • Try to get at least 20 minutes of sun per day to increase Vitamin D  levels.
photo of man doing tai chi for fall prevention
Do Strength and Balance Exercises

Do exercises that make your legs stronger and improve your balance. Tai Chi and yoga are good example of this kind of exercise. Strength training such as lifting weights or just your body weight help prevent falls and has been shown to be safe and effective for women and men of all ages. Or try this chair rise exercise to strengthen the muscles in your thighs and buttocks.

older woman getting an eye exam
Have Your Eyes Checked

Having your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year can help prevent falls.

If you have bifocal or progressive lenses, you may want to get a pair of glasses with only your distance prescription for outdoor activities, such as walking. Sometimes these types of lenses can make things seem closer or farther away than they really are.

 grab bar
How to Make Your Home Safer
  • Move or get rid of things you could trip over.
  • Add grab bars inside and outside your tub or shower and next to the toilet. Amazon has grab bars that require installation and ones that attache to your shower walls with suction.
  • Put railings on both sides of stairs.
  • Make sure your home has lots of light by adding more or brighter light bulbs.

What Can Happen After a Fall?

Many falls do not cause injuries. But one out of five falls does cause a serious injury such as a broken bone or a head injury. These injuries can make it hard for a person to get around, do everyday activities, or live on their own.

  • Falls can cause broken bones, like wrist, arm, ankle, and hip fractures.
  • Falls can cause head injuries. These can be very serious, especially if the person is taking certain medicines (like blood thinners). An older person who falls and hits their head should see their doctor right away to make sure they don’t have a brain injury.
  • Many people who fall, even if they’re not injured, become afraid of falling. This fear may cause a person to cut down on their everyday activities. When a person is less active, they become weaker and this increases their chances of falling.

Ask a West Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer

If you suspect you or a loved one fell or was injured because of another’s negligence, we invite you to call one of our experienced personal injury lawyers today for a free consultation. For example, sometimes falls are caused by negligent nursing homes or hospitals.

Our toll free number is 1-877-943-9378, and there’s No Fee unless you recover compensation. West Law Firm is located in Charleston, West Virginia and serve clients throughout the state. If you can’t come to us, we’ll send an experienced accident attorney to you.

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