Not a day goes by that an executive director isn’t dealing with or thinking about falls within the community. The dangers are real. The number of people over 65 who died after a fall reached nearly 24,000 in 2012, the most recent year for which fatality numbers are available — almost double the number 10 years earlier according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Rising Rates of Injury from Falls
The rate of severe falls has been increasing for Americans over the age of 65. Researchers say that there has also been a rise in diseases linked to falls: diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis and Parkinson’s disease. In some cases, the medication to treat the disease can increase the risk of falling.
And more than 2.4 million people over 65 were treated in emergency departments for injuries from falls in 2012 alone, an increase of 50 percent over a decade. All told, in the decade from 2002-2012, more than 200,000 Americans over 65 died after falls. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death in that age group.
As experienced providers you all know the “usual” strategies to reduce falls. Below you will find some interesting data provided by Sue Ann Guildermann, RN,BA,MA at a recent speaking engagement related to a fall reduction project for Empira.
- Fully enclosed footwear should CONTRAST to the floor color. Light colored floor? No white shoes, choose a dark color.
- Control noise. Noise level (loud TVs etc.) contribute to an increased fall rate.
- Black toilet seats, instead of white will help contrast and can reduce falls in the bathroom.
- Correct bed height. Resident’s feet should be flat on floor when seated at edge of bed with hips slightly higher than knees.
- Avoid sleep disturbance and sleep fragmentation. Work with night staff to perform checks quietly, use a flash light etc. as to not awaken the resident.
- Use hip protectors to prevent injury