As fall begins, look inside the house to avoid dangerous falls

Sep 22, 2023, 5:48 PM

SANDY — For millions of Americans, home can be a risky place. Just ask physical therapist Katy McClung of Intermountain Health.

“Every 20 minutes an American older than 65 that has had a fall ends up passing away from the medical complications related to that fall,” McClung said.

For those who are hospitalized or in rehabilitation after a serious fall, “It’s a huge emotional and mental and physical problem for those people that are now essentially bed bound,” McClung observed.

The numbers continue to be alarming. According to the National Council on Aging one out of every five falls causes a serious injury. Falls can lead to depression, loss of mobility, and functional independence.

There are proactive steps anyone can take in their own home, or on behalf of a loved one.

In the past year, Jennifer and Mike Roe of Sandy have made adjustments inside their Sandy apartment.

Jennifer was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis 20 years ago. Though still in her 40s, the disease has advanced to the stage where getting around the house is risky for her.

When not using a walker, she “wall walks” or uses the wall or nearby furniture to support her. “You really have to be mindful,” she said. “We have a routine.”

The routine means everything has its place. For her husband Mike, it means knowing the hazards are off the floor. “It has to be done for peace of mind,” Mike said.

Recently Mike Roe installed extra handrails in the bathroom and shower.

He’s busy picking up toys left by the smallest member of the family, their dog Tobey. “He’s become very stubborn, he doesn’t move,” Mike said. “There’s nothing to fall on except the dog.”

Intermountain Health’s McClung stresses that small pets are common hazards for adults with mobility issues. “Injuries from tripping over pets is one of the most frequent problems we see,” she said.

Experts also stress the following.

– Make the stairs safer by installing handrails and non-slip surfaces.

– Install grab bars in areas with uneven flooring and in the bathroom.

– Get up slowly after you sit down or lie down.

– Ask your doctor to assess your risk of falling.

– Regularly review your medications with your doctor and/or pharmacist.

– Get your vision and hearing checked every year and update your eyeglasses.

– Take precautions in unfamiliar settings.

– Talk to family members or others close to you.

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As fall begins, look inside the house to avoid dangerous falls