Falls – How They Happen and How to Avoid Them
Falling down can be very dangerous especially for the elderly and the disabled.
Author: Attorney Lonnie Roach
Falls are the second leading cause of accidental death and injury worldwide. Though many falls do not result in injury, over 800,000 people per year are hospitalized after a fall, most often for a hip fracture or head injury.
While a person of any age can fall, those over 65 are particularly vulnerable.
Thirty percent of people 65 or older living in a community setting such as a nursing home will fall; this number increases to 50% after age 80. Children are also prone to falls as they grow and develop mobility and motor skills. Curiosity in their surroundings and increased independence can lead to taking risks that result in accidents. Men are more likely to die from a fall, while older women and children usually experience injuries from falls.
There are a number of conditions and risk factors that contribute to falls:
- Lower body weakness
- Difficulty walking or poor balance
- Medications, including over-the-counter drugs, that may cause drowsiness or dizziness
- Vision and hearing problems
- Foot pain or poor footwear
- Hazardous working conditions and occupations that require labor at elevated heights
- Medical conditions such as neurological or cardiac disorders
- Alcohol and substance abuse
- Unsafe environments
- Socioeconomic conditions such as poverty, overcrowded housing, and low parental supervision
Preventing a fall may simply be a matter of using common sense and modifying your routine and environment.
- Stay fit. Regular exercise improves muscle tone, makes you stronger and keeps joints, tendons, and ligaments flexible.
- Use a walker or cane if necessary.
- Be extra careful when walking on wet or icy surfaces.
- Vision and hearing tests can pinpoint a problem that may cause you to trip.
- Know how medications you take affect you and act accordingly.
- Limit alcohol which can affect balance and reflexes.
- Stand up slowly after sitting or lying down.
- Don’t walk on newly washed floors.
- Don’t stand on a chair or table to reach something that is too high.
Ask for help or use a “reach stick” available at hardware and medical supply stores. If you use a step stool, it should be steady and have a handrail.
- Know where your cat or dog is when you are standing or walking and don’t let them trip you.
If you have been denied disability don’t give up! Contact a Disability lawyer at 512-454-4000 for a free consultation and get the benefits you deserve.
Being conscious of how you move and monitoring your activities can help you avoid a serious injury, but you can also fall-proof your home to make it safe for yourself and others.
Stairs should have handrails on both sides of the steps. Make sure there is good lighting in each room of your home; light switches should be easy to reach and installed at the top and bottom of stairwells. Carpets should be securely fixed to the floor to avoid tripping and the floor of the house should be free of paper, clothing, shoes, and toys. Place no-slip strips on wood and tile floors and keep electric cords and telephone wires near walls, away from areas where people walk. Grab-bars can be mounted inside and outside showers and tubs and near toilets while non-skid mats should be placed on any surface that gets wet. Add nightlights and keep a flashlight and a phone near the bed.
If you do fall, stay calm and remain still for a few minutes allowing yourself to get over the shock.
If you think you can get up without help, roll over on your side and rest another minute while your blood pressure adjusts. Get up – slowly – on your hands and knees and crawl to a sturdy chair.
Placing your hands on the chair seat, slide one foot forward so that it is flat on the floor keeping your other leg bent on the floor.
Get up from a kneeling position, turning your body to sit on the chair. If you can’t get up on your own, ask for help or call 911. If you live alone, carry a mobile phone at all times, especially if you have a disability. You might also consider wearing a necklace or bracelet that acts an emergency response system.
A serious injury from a fall can develop into a long-term or even permanent disability; for example, a fracture that does not heal properly or a brain injury.
If you or someone you know has suffered an injury from a fall that has impacted your work life, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Income.
Disability benefits are an important source of income for those who are unable to work. If you not able to work due to accident or illness, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability or Long Term Disability benefits. If you have applied for benefits and been denied, contact the attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed for a free consultation. Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.
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Author: Attorney Lonnie Roach has been practicing law for over 29 years. He is Superlawyers rated by Thomson Reuters and is Top AV Preeminent® and Client Champion rated by Martindale Hubbell. Through his extensive litigation Mr. Roach obtained board certifications from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Lonnie is admitted to practice in the United States District Court - all Texas Districts and the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit. Highly experienced in Long Term Disability denials and appeals governed by the “ERISA” Mr. Roach is a member of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, Austin Bar Association, and is a past the director of the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association (Director 1999-2005) Mr. Roach and all the members of Bemis, Roach & Reed have been active participants in the Travis County Lawyer referral service.
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