Sanjay Khurana is the vice president of AARP Caregiving Products & Services at AARP Services Inc.
Each year one in four seniors in the United States falls, and less than half seek medical care. Studies show that 95 percent of hip fractures are caused by falls, which can reduce life expectancy by 10 to 15 percent.
The risks associated with falling are not just physical—the fear of falling itself is a major concern for older adults and their caregivers.
There are several ways caregivers can help prevent their loved one, or someone they help, from falling. Many of these suggestions are simple home updates.
- Secure rugs with double-sided tape.
- Rearrange furniture to make it easy to get around the house.
- Reposition electrical cords to keep them out of the way.
- Use night-lights throughout the home.
- Keep exits and hallways open.
- Keep items off the floor to avoid tripping.
- Spread salt on icy walkways.
- Clean up spills immediately.
- Use rubber bathmats or nonslip strips in the bathtub or shower.
- Keep steps, sidewalks, decks and porches clear debris.
Other preventive measures older adults can take to keep themselves from falling include:
- Exercise to improve balance, fitness and strength.
- Schedule annual vision and hearing exams.
- Review medications: Some side effects may increase fall risk.
- Let your health care provider know that you are concerned about falling, and ask for a fall risk assessment.
Falls and their resulting injuries burden older adults and the U.S. health care system as a whole. The cost of falls is expected to rise to more than $67 billion by 2020.
Learn more about fall prevention, including the outcome of AARP Services and UnitedHealthcare's Fall Prevention Challenge here.