Grandpa’s Coming to Town: Elderly Injury Prevention
Seeing your parents as anything less than invincible can be difficult. As loved ones grow older, certain hazards become more prevalent. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2.8 million adults over the age of 65 are treated in emergency rooms for fall-related injuries every year.1 Studies have shown that the holiday season brings an increased fall risk, due to the upsurge in holiday-related activities – hanging up decorations, playing with grandkids, traveling, or even spending a greater amount of time in the kitchen cooking.2 Understanding the risks that come with a fall is vital for preventing traumatic injuries.
On average, one out of five falls result in serious injuries. This includes:
- Broken bones, such as wrist, ankle and hip fractures. More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling.3
- Head injuries. Certain medications, like blood thinners, can cause traumatic brain injuries if not examined by a doctor right away.
Although not every fall causes injuries, older adults may develop a fear of falling and cut down on common activities. People become weaker as they are less active, which increases their chances of falling.
Learn how to prevent falls during an elderly loved one’s visit during the holidays:
- Know the common fall risk factors for older adults.
Loss of balance and coordination, loss of vision, medications that cause dizziness or chronic conditions like diabetes, stroke or arthritis are all factors that increase the likelihood of a fall. It is important to familiarize yourself with these so that you can implement preventative measures before a fall.
- Ensure that your house is free of safety hazards.
Increase lighting throughout the house, especially at the top and bottom of stairs. Ensure that stairs have secure railings. Clear walkways of items that could cause slips or trips, such as electrical cords, rugs without nonskid backing or clutter. In the tub and shower, use non-slip mats, install grab bars and consider getting a shower chair for your elderly guest.
- Talk with your loved ones about their health conditions.
Do they feel they have problems managing their health? Are they having trouble remembering to take their medication? Do they experience side effects? Ask about their last eye checkup. Take notice if they need assistance walking or standing, either holding onto walls, furniture or someone else.
If a fall does occur, know the location of the nearest neighborhood hospital. St. Vincent Neighborhood Hospital is open 24 hours a day, even during the holidays. We are equipped with comprehensive emergency services for critical injuries, dedicated radiology and imaging services for broken bones and fractures, and inpatient care services for prolonged observations.
On average, St. Vincent Neighborhood Hospital patients can expect an exam turnaround time for radiology procedures of less than 30 minutes. We offer ultrasound on demand, and have board-certified/eligible radiologists available 24/7. Our in-house pharmacy is fully equipped to meet the needs of emergency and inpatient patients, ensuring a quick turnaround time for medications. Learn more about our services.