North Carolina not taking falls lying down

Published: Sep. 20, 2012 at 9:45 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 24, 2012 at 9:45 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Throughout the country, falls affect many senior citizens. More than one out of three seniors over the age of 65 will suffer from a fall this year. In lieu of this growing epidemic, North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue (D) has taken action. Perdue has declared this week (September 17-22) as Falls Prevention Awareness Week.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has reported that among all 100 counties, falls were the number one reason seniors visited emergency departments and the top reason they were hospitalized. According to national reports, every 17 seconds an older adult is treated in a hospital emergency department for injuries related to a fall.

Injuries from falls are the leading cause of death in most counties.

The purpose of this week is to bring awareness to falls, by educating seniors that may be unaware or even deny that they too are susceptible to the dangers of falls, as well as teaching preventive strategies to protect themselves in and around the house.

Physical therapist Scott Donovan of Liberty Homecare and Hospice Services, is educating seniors about potential risks and helping many recover from their injuries.

"Our seniors are proud of their achievements and they want to maintain that independence," said Donovan. "We as a team together, the patient and myself, we discuss what's important to them and how we can achieve them and introduce them to ways to achieve those goals and maintain a long functional life."

Because most falls occur at home, DHHS recommends simple steps you can take to prevent dangerous falls:

•     Lighting - Make sure that you have good, bright lighting in your home. Use night-lights in your bedroom, hall and bathroom.

•     Rugs - Make sure rugs are firmly fastened to the floor or use nonskid backing.  Tack down loose ends.

•     Electrical cords - Move electrical or phone cords so they are not lying on the floor in walking areas. Do not run cords under rugs.

•     Bathroom - Put grab bars in your bathroom for support when moving on or off the toilet, or stepping into the tub or shower.  Consider using a seat while showering for a safe, stable position for washing legs and feet.

•     Stairs/stairwells - Install handrails on both sides of stairwells.  Be sure the stairs are well lit.

•     Kitchen - Store items within easy reach and avoid using step-stool's or stepladders.  Keep items that you use near where you use them.

•     Phone - Add cordless phones so that you have a phone in easy reach to place or answer calls.  Make sure the phone near the bed is a corded phone that will work even when power is out.

•     Footwear - Wear shoes with firm non-skid, non-friction soles.  Avoid wearing loose-fitting slippers.

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