I had a dream. I was walking and my legs wouldn't work. There was nothing for me to hold onto as I fell.
Dream interpreters would say that it was an indication of insecurities, instabilities and anxieties or that I had a loss of control with some sort of situation in my life. It mirrors what I've heard older adults express about aging; a loss of control, insecurities about aging, the anxiety about losing ones independence and a true fear of falling.
Falls are all too common in seniors' homes and within communities, including ours. In fact, falls are the leading mechanism of injury in adults 65 years and older per the Ministry Saint Joseph's Hospital Trauma Registry. Falls are among the most common cause of injury hospitalizations and emergency department visits in our region. The place where the fall injury happened is many times in your home.
Hazards in the home are often easy to overlook, but many are equally easily fixed.
Let's think about our floors. Throw rugs are common. But if you would have asked my grandmother to remove her throw rugs, she would have had some choice words to say. Placing double-sided tape or a non-slip backing to a rug will help prevent it from slipping. Removing clutter from the floor will clear walkways and remove tripping hazards.
Another common room to fall in is the bathroom. Placing a non-slip rubber mat or self-stick strips on the floor of the tub or shower will help with slipping. Having a grab bar installed inside the tub and next to the toilet will give added support when getting in and out of the tub or up from the toilet.
Adequate lighting is important throughout the house. Have a friend or family member change burned out light bulbs. Make sure you have a light near the bed that is in easy reach. Also consider adding lights in stairways if not present. These are just a few safety measures that can be taken.
At Ministry Saint Joseph's Hospital, we provided skilled trauma care yet we also believe than injury prevention is the best form of trauma care. Inspect you home this spring to find and identify fall risks. Then take control and do something about it. Take steps to live fall free in order to be secure in your home, and live as independently as one is able.