“Falling Is An Experience We Are Better Avoiding As We Age In Place”

This woman has caught her foot on the edge of this unanchored loose rug and is in the process of stumbling forward as a result – hopefully without landing on the floor or against something hard

September is “Falls Prevention Month”

Every September, we observe “Falls Prevention Month.” The autumnal equinox is just a few days away, so this is the fall season – meteorologically speaking, and hopefully not within our homes. Falls are such a prevalent issue but one that is largely manageable.

This special month causes us to pause for a moment and reflect on all of the ways that falling or tripping issues can be present and the best or most effective ways of eliminating or minimizing them.

In the larger sense, every day, and not just the thirty of them in September, should be a falls awareness focus. Because falls are so dangerous to our overall well-being, we must focus on the ways people can be safer.

There is no escaping that falls happen

First, we need to accept the fact that falls and stumbles do happen. They are inevitable. However, they do not need to be serious. The key is to avoid injury.

Stumbles, trips, loss of balance, walking into objects because we were distracted or looking elsewhere, getting our feet entangled or trying to avoid stepping on a pet or child that runs in front of us, or several other occurrences can result in a potential fall. It’s appropriate that we are aware of just how many distractions and potential incidents we face on a daily basis so we can focus on eliminating as many possible tripping, collision, and poor footing conditions as we can – for us and others.

Nevertheless, falls do happen so just think how much more they might occur or how much more serious or debilitating they might be if we weren’t focused on preventing, minimizing the impact, or eliminating as many potential trips and falls as we can.

Homes aren’t always safe

Even though we regard our homes as a safe haven – a place out of and away from the storms of the world, it can present its share of personal challenges for us. There can be safety issues present.

There are just so many things in and about a person’s home – let alone places away from the home – that can cause accidents to happen. All falls and slips are uncomfortable – if not embarrassing – but not all are injurious. Many are.

Sometimes it’s just a slip or a fall that produces no lasting effects – maybe just a bruise or a slight muscle strain, if anything. Sometimes, the strain or sprain can be a little more severe. Sometimes, a broken bone or dislocation results. Falls are even more serious if someone hits their head on someone as they fall, often resulting in a TBI (traumatic brain injury).. .

Eliminating conditions that cause falls requires diligence

Regardless of the severity of a fall or slip, the objective is to eliminate as many potential causes for such conditions as we can. There are the obvious ones such as extension or power cords that cross a passageway, or a hose stretched across the sidewalk. There are pools of water from rain or lawn and garden watering that can look simple enough to walk on or through but become problematic.

Toys, clothing and outerwear, tools, groceries before they are put away, and things on their way to the garage, attic, closet, basement, or car can cause someone to trip over them or misstep as they try to walk around or avoid them.

Loose carpeting or flooring, tears in carpeting or vinyl flooring, glare from shiny surfaces, and throw or area rugs (or ones with the corners curled up) can present navigation issues in the home. Wet flooring in the bathroom or from moisture tracked in from the outside (near exterior doorways) can lead to slips.

Safety is an ongoing concern

In short, the idea that someone’s home is their castle or sanctuary comes with no guarantees. It isn’t automatically true. There are so many things going on – nearly constantly – that we need to watch out for and then correct to keep our homes relatively safe. Then we need to take those lessons and apply them to our clients’ homes.

Safety is not an easy proposition – necessary, but not easy.

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