Preventing Falls Can Save Lives
Published by Contra Costa Times
Posted on Wed., Feb.06, 2008
By Deborah Card, RN, Ed.D and Patricia Frost, RN, MS
AN ACTIVE elderly woman falls and breaks her hip. She ends up in a convalescent home for several months, never fully recovers and ends up passing away.
An elderly man falls getting out of his car and hits his head. He refuses to go to the hospital when the ambulance arrives, but days later ends up having to undergo brain surgery because of slow bleeding from the head injury.
Unfortunately, accidents such as these are common and often preventable.
As people age, they are more likely to lose their balance and to break bones. Falls are the leading cause of accidental death and unintentional injury among Contra Costa residents 65 years and older.
Injuries from falling can prevent healthful exercise and independent living, which, in turn, can lead to blood clots, stroke, depression, joint stiffness, loss of muscle tone, and an increased risk of early death.
The good news is that falls are often preventable and the new Fall Prevention Program of Contra Costa is working to raise awareness about this issue.
Taking the following steps can make a home safer, especially for the elderly:
Changing a senior's behaviors also can help prevent falls:
Blood-thinning medications such as aspirin, Plavix or coumadin put a person at higher risk for serious injury, because they can cause slow bleeding, which may turn a simple bump into a serious condition that may not show up right away.
If paramedics suggest that you go to the emergency room after a fall, they are probably concerned that you might have such a slow-developing injury.
If you decide to send them away and later feel worse, seek medical care immediately, including calling 911 again.
For more information on fall prevention, visit http://www.stopfalls.org. For information about the Fall Prevention Program of Contra Costa, contact Deborah Card at firstname.lastname@example.org or 925-313-6117.
Card is the Contra Costa Health Services public health nurse manager and Frost is the quality improvement coordinator for Contra Costa Emergency Medical Services. Healthy Outlook is written by the professional staff of Contra Costa Health Services, the county health department. Send questions to series coordinator Dr. David Pepper at email@example.com. For more health information, go to www.cchealth.org.