The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that approximately 28-35 percent of people age 65 and over fall each year worldwide. For individuals older than 70, some 32-42 percent fall accounting for 40 percent of all injury related deaths.
Trips and stumbles outside are more common than to lose footing indoors. For the elderly, injuries from having a fall often limit mobility and increase the risk for early death. Nearly half of tumbles outdoors are related to walking, particularly on uneven sidewalks or tripping over curbs. Those at highest risk for falling outdoors are individuals with balance, vision or cognitive impairment, or weakness in the lower extremities. Fortunately, many of the slips and falls outside for elders can be prevented by the following measures:
- Stay aware of uneven terrain or slippery surfaces – watch for holes, tree roots and ice.
- Check the height of curbs and steps before stepping up on them or down from them.
- Wear correct eyewear when walking – reading glasses or bifocals can distort the ability to see potential hazards.
- Walk in well-lit areas in the evening to provide the most visibility for hazards.
- Keep your hands free, when possible – use a messenger or other over-the-shoulder bag should the need arise to break a fall.
- Wear sturdy, low-heeled shoes for better balance.
WHO has developed a full report on falls in older age, including determinants to preventing falls. Right at Home caregivers are trained to help the elderly with balance issues use walkers or canes and step carefully onto curbs or up steps. The adult home care professionals also can keep an eye on steps, porches and patios for worn-down areas or loose nails. Limiting outdoor fall hazards keeps everyone safe to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.
How do you keep your elderly loved one from falling outdoors?