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Elderly Fall Prevention

Reducing the Risk of Falling

By Aging in Place, Blog, Elderly Fall Prevention, fall detection, FallAlert, FallAlert system

For seniors, falls in and around the home are the most frequently occurring accident. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one out of every three adults over age 65 falls each year. Fall rates increase significantly as we advance in age. The National Council on Aging reports that falls are the number one reason why seniors lose their independence – because they are the leading cause of injury and even death among older adults.

Fall Prevention Infographic

CDC – Fall Prevention Infographic

A study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the primary way that older Americans can delay or diminish the need to move to a long-term care facility is to prevent falls and the resulting injuries.[1] This is encouraging news because most falls are preventable if certain practical precautions are taken.

Reduce your fear of falling

Seniors often reduce their level of physical activity after a fall for fear of falling again. However, this can make the situation worse. Cutting back on exercise or physical activity leads to a loss of muscle strength, flexibility, balance and gait.

The first step is to reduce your fear of falling by engaging in activities that can help reduce the risk of falls. After consulting your doctor, consider resuming activities such as walking, water workouts, or even tai chi — an exercise that involves slow and graceful movements that resemble a kind of synchronized dance. Activities like these reduce the risk of falls by improving strength, flexibility, balance and coordination. Research also suggests they may help lower blood pressure and improve heart function.

Preventing falls at home

By taking a few modest steps, many falls can be prevented.

1. Make your home safer

About half of all falls happen at home. To make your home safer:

  • Reduce tripping hazards – keep cords, papers, books, boxes, plants, shoes and clothes off of the stairs or away from places you walk.
  • Either remove throw rugs or use non-skid mats or double-sided tape to keep the rugs from slipping
  • Use non-slip mats or appliques on the shower floor or in the bathtub
  • Install grab bars in the shower or tub and next to the toilet
  • Install handrails and lights on both sides of staircases
  • Improve the lighting in your home. As you age you need brighter lights to see better. To reduce glare, hang light-weight curtains or shades
  • Keep the items you use most often in cabinets you can reach easily without using a stool or stepladder
  • Wear shoes both inside and outside the house. Avoid going barefoot or wearing slippers.

2. Have your vision checked

Once a year have your eyes checked by your eye doctor. You may have developed cataracts or glaucoma or your glasses prescription may have changed. Poor vision increases your chances of falling.

3. Have your doctor review your medicines

Once a year you should have your doctor or pharmacist review the prescriptions and medicines you take, even over–the–counter medicines. As you age, the way medicines affect your body can change. In addition, some medicines, or combinations of medicines, can cause dizziness or drowsiness and cause you to fall.

4. Begin a regular exercise program

Finally, exercise is perhaps the most important thing you can do to lower your risk of falling. Exercise improves your balance and coordination, makes you stronger and helps you feel better. A lack of exercise leads to muscle weakness and an increased propensity for falls. Ask your doctor or health care provider what type of exercise program might be best for you.

If you do fall

LifeCall’s in-home health care monitoring solutions give you the ability to summon prompt assistance right at your fingertips. In the event of a fall you can get help quickly, which reduces medical complications that result from being immobile for prolonged periods of time. LifeCall will get you help in two ways.

The LifeCall Response Center is the only center where all operators are certified Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs). It is powered by a world-class automation platform and two fail-safe redundant systems. The center also has been recognized by Computer World Magazine for its high-tech infrastructure provides fast access to highly trained, caring Response Associates at the push of a button, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Our new LifeCall with FallAlert* option also enables you to push the pendant-style button for help at any time. FallAlert provides additional protection by automatically placing a call for help if a fall is detected and you can’t push your button because you are disoriented, immobilized, or unconscious. This enhanced service option can provide even greater security and peace of mind.

*FallAlert works through sensors that detect a person’s sway, orientation and impact with surface. It does not detect 100% of falls. If you are able after a fall, you should always press the LifeCall button when you need help.

For 40 years LifeCall Medical Alert Systems have provided families with security and independence at their fingertips by offering instant access to EMT-trained emergency personnel around the clock at the push of a button. Falls and strokes are common among seniors – a personal emergency response system can save your life. LifeCall: the most important call you’ll ever make.

[1] Promoting a National Falls Prevention Action Plan, Research Review Papers, Stevens, Judy, Ph.D, “Falls Among Older Adults – Risk Factors and Prevention Strategies,” page 3.

New Research To Prevent Elderly Falls

By Blog, Elderly Fall Prevention No Comments
Exercising in China

Obesity? Not a problem in China.
Beijing: 16 million residents,10 million bikes.
50,000 exercise daily in parks!

Thanks to brand new research, the American Geriatrics Society has just published its guidelines on  how to treat falls and how to avoid them in the first place. For seniors falls can mean altered lifestyles, fewer trips outside the home,  less independence and more isolation.  Ironically, seniors often make matters worse by not disclosing a fall to family or physician … fearing losing independence. Medications – A Leading Cause of FallsExcessive medications, particularly of psychotropic drugs, are a leading cause of falls.  They may have cumulative effects ” that lead to “unforeseen side effects,” notes the AGS Guidelines. Medications often are prescribed by different doctors that a senior may be seeing, and there can be a lack of communication and awareness of the combined effects of the drugs. Seniors and their families should be particularly aggressive about their medication needs. Customized Exercise Program A large body of evidence now supports the recommendation that exercise, in the form of resistance (strength) training and balance, gait, and coordination training, is effective in reducing falls. Vision impairment Aging is often associated with changes in visual acuity, development of cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma, and other conditions that would suggest an effect on risk of falling. Vision concerns should be followed up with formal assessment and suggested treatment, particularly for cataracts. Dizziness When older people rise from a seated position, it’s not uncommon for their blood pressure to drop and for them to become dizzy and even disoriented. This condition, known as postural hypotension, is a common cause of falls. Your blood pressure needs to be checked in two positions – standing as well as seated, notes the Guidelines. Vitamin D Strongly RecommendedSeniors with suspected vitamin D deficiency should be routinely offered supplementation to reduce fall risk. People living in the Northeast and other areas with low seasonal sunlight levels should be evaluated for vitamin D deficiency. Feet and Footwear Common sense rules the day when it comes to aging feet. Well-fitting, comfortable shoes with non-skid soles are recommended. Age-Friendly Homes Many falls and other senior accidents occur at home and can be avoided with a bit of prevention. Many area agencies on aging and other senior programs can recommend or provide home screening services to identify problems. LifeCall Fall Alert Systems fall-alert2 Most Falls Take Place At Home FallAlert Auto Fall Detector by LifeCall is an ideal solution for reliable fall detection in partnership with the LifeCall Medical Alert System. A stylish, wireless fall detector, FallAlert functions both as a standard manual medical alert button and as a fall detection system. The system offers a comprehensive way of managing your risk of falling 24-hours-a-day. Call LifeCall at 1.866.220.1212.

Falls by Elderly, Perilous But Preventable

By Blog, Elderly Fall Prevention No Comments

Fall Prevention Tips

Who would have thought that popping a pill could help prevent falls in the elderly? According to a new report on fall prevention, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, vitamin D may help adults age 65 and older stay steady and upright.

Falls are the leading cause of injury in adults 65 and older, and preventing them is much more effective than treating them.  Thirty percent to 40 percent of the elderly fall at least once a year; many who had been living independently never regain their previous functioning, ending up in assisted living and nursing homes.

According to, older individuals have higher instances of vitamin D deficiencies.  This deficiency is often caused by poor diet, bad absorption of the vitamin in their intestines, not receiving enough sun light and liver or kidney diseases that affect the metabolism of vitamin D metabolism.  Many people are not aware that they have a vitamin D deficiency.  Doctors can check the level of vitamin D in your body through a blood test.

Taking vitamin D supplements daily is one of three major recommendations on fall prevention recently issued by the United States Preventive Services Task Force.

The task force is the first major medical group to recommend vitamin D supplements for those who live at home (not in assisted living or nursing homes) and are at higher-than-normal risk of falling — that is, those over age 65 who have already fallen or who have had limitations in mobility within the last year.

The task force’s last recommendation for fall prevention involves exercise.  Appropriate exercise should be any balance, strengthening and aerobic moves the patient likes enough to actually do regularly.

Hazards Around The House

The task force did not address home-grown pitfalls, so here are the prime places to start on your own:

  • Stairs  – obviously the most likely place to experience serious falls. Put up railings on both sides. Replace worn carpet, as it can be slippery. Install lighting at the top and bottom of the stairs. Mark the top and bottom steps clearly with a different color of carpeting (tape tends to need replacing too often).
  • Bathrooms – clearly the next big fall zone.  Secure grab bars (not the suction-cup variety) into the walls at varying easy-to-grab angles in addition to vertically and horizontally. Place them not only where you enter the tub or shower but also in a second midway spot — for example, where the built-in soap holder usually is, and by the toilet.
  • Good lighting –  an easy and inexpensive safety improvement throughout the home.
  • Getting rid of clutter – a  critical but not so easy safety measure, especially if you are a hoarder!
  • Pets and their paraphernalia – when our furry friends can also pose a hazard.

The Use It or Lose It Category
Confidence is important to fall prevention.  Fear itself in this case can lead older people to cut back on activities they used to enjoy. The less they do, sadly, the less they eventually are able to do.

For the first time since 2001, the American Geriatrics Society and the British Geriatrics Society have updated their guidelines for preventing falls in older people. The update includes two notable changes:  One recommends tai chi as an effective way to prevent falls, while another suggests that doctors review medication use by all elderly patients, with an eye toward reducing use of those drugs that increase the risk of falling.

Click HERE for their recommendations in PDF form.

Contact LifeCall Medical Alert Systems, one of the leading providers of BOSCH in-home health care monitoring solutions for seniors and at-risk persons seeking to retain their independence and remain in their own homes.