Roger Stroh (MPT, CFCE, CEAS, MSA), founder of Rehab 4 Life and At Home Therapy Services, hosted a safety seminar on Friday. He focused on fall prevention, and the importance of staying healthy. We learned that 33% of persons 65 and older report a fall annually, and those that do fall are 2 to 3 times more likely to fall again. Complications from falling are the leading cause of death among seniors. Falls also account for 25% of hospital admissions, and 40% of nursing home admissions.
Fall related medical costs topped $30 billion last year and averaged $20,000 per person. Estimates show that by 2040, the cost to Medicare for hip fractures alone will cost over $240 billion. This problem has become a very serious one. Fortunately, there are many simple actions that can be taken to reduce the potential to fall.
Since over half of all falls occur in the home, and 31% are environment or accident related, Roger shared ways to modify the home environment. The first was to make sure there is good lighting. Adding motion lights or night lights en route to the bathroom can help prevent late night falls. Rugs are always a potential hazard, but if you must have them, make sure they are secured firmly on the floor either with tape, or a nonskid backing. Also check for cords crossing walkways, and make sure you have good fitting shoes with nonskid soles.
Personal precautions should also be considered. Make sure you are visiting your eye doctor once a year, taking good care of your feet, exercising regularly, eating healthy, and staying hydrated. Many seniors are fearful of drinking too much water because it increases the need to urinate. Roger informed us that the body will actually adjust to an increase in hydration, and eventually compensate. He suggests drinking half your body weight in ounces to see the most benefits. The risks of not staying hydrated far outweigh potential danger from extra bathroom breaks.
It is also important to be aware of your body. If dizzy spells strike, take a few moments to slow down, rest, and breathe before walking. This is especially true when getting out of bed in the morning. It takes a few moments for the blood to redistribute after lying down. Be sure to talk to someone if you are experiencing side effects from medications (like dizzy spells), as these can also contribute to falling.
We talked briefly about the importance of consulting a physical therapist before a fall happens. The physical therapists at Rehab 4 Life can offer help with orthopedics, falling, balance, pain, and environmental risks. Through working closely with their clients, they are able to provide a unique perspective a doctor may not have.
At Home Therapy Area at River Pointe
One of the simplest take-aways from this seminar was just to be aware of your environment. Ask yourself questions like: Are my most used household items between waist and shoulder height? Do I avoid certain activities due to fear of falling? Is there a sturdy bench or chair in my shower to rest on? Am I paying attention to my walking path and movements? If you find yourself struggling with these questions, become more aware of your environment. Talk to the staff here at River Pointe with concerns you have, or consult a physical therapist.
Thank you to Roger and his team for providing our residents with this great information, and outstanding care. If you would like more information about Rehab 4 Life, please call them at 701-293-7294 or visit their website.