Don't celebrate fall with a fall
Although fall is nearly here, falls are not needed.
National Council on Aging statistics say an older person is treated in an emergency department every 11 seconds. There are steps people can take to prevent falls.
Gayla Ratzlaff, coordinator of Marion County Department on Aging, occasionally offers classes on fall prevention. Falls can be life-threatening, she said.
“I know someone once told me a story about a gentleman who had fallen and tried to call out for help,” she said. “He was outside all night and unfortunately, he died.”
While people think they can project themselves by yelling, if they have to yell a long time, they lose their voice, she said. She recommends carrying a whistle instead.
Ratzlaff offers several tips for seniors to prevent falls.
She recommends removing area rugs from the home, so people do not trip over them.
Something else to be kept out of the walkway is electrical cords, Ratzlaff said.
She also recommends having good lighting in the home, especially if seniors have to get up during the night. If people don’t want to turn on a light for a trip to another room, have night lights in the walkways, she said.
“As we get older our eyes don’t change as quickly in the dark,” she said.
She also recommends installing grab bars or similar items wherever people get up to help provide balance.
During the day, seniors should wear shoes that provide good foot support.
People should stay aware of pets in the house, because the animal can get around their feet and cause them to trip, Ratzlaff said.
“If you spill something on the floor, you wipe that up right away because that is a hazard in your home,” she said.
It’s not a good thing to lay there. She recommends seniors remain as mobile as they can, moving around often.
“If you don’t use it, you lose it,” Ratzlaff said. “Just try to be as active as you possibly can. I know sometimes people who have fallen are afraid to get up and move around. If you don’t move around you are more incapacitated.”
Seniors often don’t want to tell people they have fallen, but Ratzlaff recommends people who find themselves falling more often get in touch with Marion County Home Health Services, which offers an option for them.
Robyn Radtke of Marion County Home Care Services says their program is called “Voice of Health.”
“It’s an emergency response system,” Radtke said. “All of our units have fall detection.”
If a client falls and is unable to respond, the service will contact the client’s designated responder, such as a relative or neighbor. If the responders can’t come, an ambulance is called.
“Some people will say they need an ambulance,” she said.
Although similar services are available elsewhere, the fact that Home Health Care is local means the agency can go check on the person, and their device can be replaced immediately instead of waiting for it to arrive in the mail, she said.
The service costs $36 a month with a one-time set up fee of $63.
Enrollment is available by calling (620) 382-3690.
A lot of times people don’t want to talk about falling but if they are falling more often it’s important to share that with their doctor, Ratzlaff said. The problem might be a side effect of a medication.
Last modified Sept. 17, 2020