Preventing Falls

Parkview Regional Hospital is kicking off a new campaign designed to bring fewer patients to the hospital. If people listen, then more seniors will maintain their independence longer, fewer will require trips to the ER, and a number of lives will be saved. And that's just during the next year.

Fall prevention - both inside and outside the hospital - is the focus. And, in fact, if you looks around the hospital, you may even see and ELF (which stands for Everyone Lessening Falls), a character created just for this campaign to remind people that it takes effort from everyone to prevent falls.

Here are a few facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control that are alarming:

  • Falls are the leading causes of injury-related deaths among people ages 65 and older.
  • One of every three adults over age 65 falls each year, with nearly 2 million requiring medical treatment.
  • Hip fractures cause the greatest number of deaths. They account for 87 percent of all fractures.

"We want to make sure we are helping our community prevent injuries whenever possible," said Parkview CEO Jimmy Stuart. "So as we are beginning a campaign to increase our patients' awareness of the increased risk of falling in the hospital, we are also focusing on making our community aware of what to do in their own homes to lower the risk of falling."

The risk of falling increases when someone becomes a patient. "When someone is hospitalized, the risk of falling is increased because they are in an unfamiliar environment, may be on medication, or may not be feeling well. That's why it's especially important to pay extra care and attention if you or someone you love is hospitalized," he said.

The hospital offers these recommendations to minimize the risk of falling at home:

Floors

  • Keep heavily trafficked areas free of clutter, especially electrical cords and small objects.
  • Secure loose rugs with carpet tape.
  • Use non-skid cleaners on tile and wooden floors.
  • Repair carpet tears, especially on stairs.
  • Eliminate raised thresholds, or clearly mark them with colored tape.

Lighting

  • Lights should be easily turned on before entering a room.
  • Use nightlights in bedrooms, bathrooms and hallways.
  • Keep a light within arm's reach of the bed.
  • Store a flashlight close to your bed in case of a power outage.
  • Stairwells should be clearly lit with light switches at both the top and bottom.

Bathrooms

  • Place non-skid strips or mats on shower and tub floors.
  • Install grab bars inside the bath area and next to the toilet.
  • Use a raised toilet seat.

Kitchen

  • Store frequently used items on lower shelves within easy reach.
  • Never stand on a chair. Consider purchasing a sturdy stool instead.

"Safety is everyone's business and we consider it our role to help ensure that the community is educated about the steps that can be taken at home," summarized Stuart.