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» Elderly Fall Prevention

Have any of your parents, family members or friends fallen in their homes? Have they stumbled over a pet, tripped on a throw rug, or slipped in the bathroom? If so, our program to prevent elderly falls in their homes may be able to help.

The Elderly Fall Prevention program offers an elderly home safety assessment and incentives for fall prevention devices. To qualify, individuals must be 55 years or older, reside within the Apache Reservation, live independently, have fallen at least once during the past year, and be low income.

Firefighters and public fire educators perform the home assessments. They also install such risk reduction devices (RRDs) as tub grab bars, toilet assist bars, shower chairs, transfer benches, bed assist railings, wall grab bars, rug slips, bath mats, night lights, tread tape, smoke alarms, and carpet tape.

Falls and fall injuries:

  • Are more common than strokes and can be just as serious in their consequences.


  • Are the most preventable cause of needing nursing home placement.


  • Lead to problems with daily activities like dressing, bathing, and walking around.

Among adults 65 years and older:

  • 3 in 10 fall each year.


  • 2 in 10 who need home health care after being in the hospital will fall during the first month after coming home.


  • 1 in 10 suffer a serious fall injury such as a broken bone or head injury.


  • 5 in 10 have problems getting up without help after they have fallen.


  • Falls cause over 90% of broken hips; only half of those who break their hip will get around like they did before their broken hip.


  • In the United States, 16 percent of all Emergency Department visits and almost 7 percent of all hospitalizations are for fall-related injuries.

Preventable

  • Many of the health problems that increase the chance of falling are known and are treatable.


  • Common, treatable health problems and hazards include problems with walking or moving around, medications, foot problems or unsafe footwear, blood pressure dropping too much on getting up, problems seeing, and tripping hazards at home.


  • As shown in the figure below, the more of these problems an older adult has, the greater the chance of falling.


  • The good news is that you can decrease the chance of falling by improving these problems.

The common health problems for falling are:

  • Problems walking or moving around.


  • 4 or more medications.


  • Foot problems, unsafe footwear.


  • Blood pressure drops too much on standing up/dizzy.


  • Problems with seeing.


  • Tripping hazards in your home.


Falls in the elderly are a serious problem with high morbidity and mortality. It has been estimated that of those 65 and older who are living in their own homes, nearly one-third will fall each year. Of those who fall, one in forty will be hospitalized. Of those who are hospitalized, only half will be alive at the end of the year. Those who have had one fall are at increased risk for further falls. It is hoped that the relatively inexpensive intervention of making the home environment safer will prevent elderly patients who have had a previous fall from having another potentially more dangerous fall.

To schedule an assessment, contact a WMA Fire Department nearest you.

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