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Published on September 25, 2017

Preventing Falls for the Young and Old

Senior Falling Down

Falling can cause serious injuries for the elderly, for little ones learning walk and for individuals with movement disorders. These Fox 8 House Call segments from Cone Health rehabilitation experts provide tips and information to assist with fall prevention.

Around the House As We Get Older

Falls are the leading cause of injuries for older Americans and they can lead to the loss of independence. One in four Americans over the age of 65 fall each year leading to more than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments and one out of five falls causes a serious injury.

To avoid serious injury, fall prevention should be a priority for adults over the age of 65. A few examples of how to prevent falls can include:

  • Talk to your doctor – evaluate your risk for falls and review your medications
  • Keep moving – discuss appropriate exercises with your provider
  • Check your vision – schedule an eye exam
  • Remove loose rugs from the floor. Many falls are caused by someone tripping on a rug.
  • Clear pathways. Keep the most commonly used pathways clear of tripping hazards.
  • Keep pathways well-lit. It’s easy to trip on something you can’t see. Make sure pathways stay well-lit so even late-night trips to the bathroom are safe.
  • Sudden movements can sometimes cause a change in your blood pressure which may cause you to be unsteady on your feet.

Resources:

Angela Thomas, a clinical nurse specialist for Cone Health and a part of the care management team that supports Triad HealthCare Network, spoke on Fox 8 House Call about preventing falls around the house for older adults.

For Little Ones Learning to Walk

As children learn, it’s okay to fall some, but to avoid serious injury, it’s important to make sure the environment is safe. Toddlers are known for getting into things they aren’t supposed to, and to minimize the possibility of them getting into something harmful, consider these tips:

  • Watch windows – keep windows closed and locked when they aren’t being used and make sure to remove anything near a window that a child can use to climb up. If possible, only open windows from the top or install guards that stop them from opening more than a few inches.
  • Mount furniture to the wall – when possible, secure furniture to the wall to prevent anything from falling onto a child that’s attempting to climb it.
  • Secure kids when seated – use buckles and straps to secure children to high chairs, swings or strollers whenever possible.
  • Careful around stairs – use safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs to prevent accidents, and always supervise toddlers while they learn to use them.
  • Supervision is key – having a parent or guardian supervising young children as they explore is the most important safety tip. An adult can always step in and help a child when it looks like they are getting into trouble.

For toddlers, wearing shoes is optional! Walking around barefoot actually helps young children develop the small muscles in their feet that help them balance. There are times when wearing shoes is a good idea, like when it’s cold, but therapists recommend letting toddlers explore and learn without shoes when possible.

Carrie Sawulski, a licensed physical therapist at Cone Health Outpatient Orthopedic and Pediatric Rehabilitation at Greensboro, spoke on Fox 8 House Call about preventing falls in toddlers learn to walk.