Tripping Hazards...oops I did it again
Have you ever tripped down the stairs while sneezing? I did and almost fell down the last three stairs to my living room. If I hadn’t acted quickly and grabbed the railing to stop my fall I could have been hurt.
I can be clumsy at times. I don’t like to think of myself as clumsy after all, I feel so graceful while practicing yoga and coordinated while dancing in Zumba class. I might leave Zumba feeling like a dancing queen, but truth be told there are days when I trip over the smallest thing.
Do you have days like these too? Where tripping seems to be the way you walk? Has it gotten worse over the years? It shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn we become more susceptible to tripping and falling as we age.
Did you know that falls are the number one leading cause of death from injury among adults 65 and over? Once we hit 80, the likelihood of a fall increases exponentially and happens to women more than men. 3
There are tripping hazards wherever we go from uneven sidewalks to slippery surfaces, but it’s not just when we leave the house. It’s home sweet home that’s to blame for most of our falls. Home is where you are most likely to take a tumble due to an obstacle in your path, broken or uneven stairs, throw rugs, or inadequate lighting.
What it means to you and being able to age in place
What could happen if we choose to ignore the tripping hazards in our homes? Well enough, is good enough, right? I beg to differ.
Every year, 3 million senior adults are treated in the emergency rooms for fall-related injuries for things like broken bones, wrist, arm, ankle, and hip fractures.1,2
Falls can cause head injuries which can be very serious, especially if the person is taking certain medications like blood thinners.
The most profound effect of falling is the loss of ability to age in place and live independently.
Falling can create a vicious cycle. Many people who fall, even if they’re not hurt, often become afraid of falling. This fear can cause someone to cut back on what they do every day, making them less active. When a person is less active, they become weaker which increases the likelihood of falling again.3
Many falls don’t cause injuries. But one in five falls does cause a serious injury such as a broken bone or a head injury.1,2 These injuries can make it hard for a person to get around, do everyday activities, or live on their own. They may need to move into skilled nursing or an assisted living facility where they can get the help they need.
Imagine living somewhere you never intended and it’s not by coincidence or happenstance, it’s because of a preventable accident. A falling accident caused by tripping hazards.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Because falls happen most often in the home that means you can do something about it. You don’t have to be one of the 3 million who are injured in a fall each year. A little piece of interior design advice ala Ben Franklin is that there are many benefits to preventative planning and investing in your future.
Tripping hazards prevention is essential and that comes in several forms, two of which are taking care of our bodies and making changes in our home. As we get older, we're not as nimble, strong, or flexible as we were. I do my best to practice a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and can attest to its benefits. I support everyone in their effort to take care of their bodies and thereby helping to prevent a fall injury.
As our bodies change, we need to respond accordingly with physical maintenance and the maintenance of our homes. One of the first steps you can take is to have an aging in place evaluation performed in your home. I offer this service and will collaborate with your health care provider to ensure the safest and most forward-thinking design recommendations for you. This will give you a baseline on where your home is now and what steps you can take to ensure that your home is a safe and optimally functioning place for you to live on purpose and not a place that sets you up for an accident.
If you’d like to learn more about an aging in place evaluation, book a free design discover call with me.
Tripping Hazards...Let's Live on Purpose, Not by Accident!
Alexander BH, Rivara FP, Wolf ME. The cost and frequency of hospitalization for fall-related injuries in older adults. American Journal of Public Health 1992;82(7):1020–3.
Sterling DA, O’Connor JA, Bonadies J. Geriatric falls: injury severity is high and disproportionate to mechanism. Journal of Trauma–Injury, Infection and Critical Care 2001;50(1):116–9
Vellas BJ, Wayne SJ, Romero LJ, Baumgartner RN, Garry PJ. Fear of falling and restriction of mobility in elderly fallers. Age and Ageing 1997;26:189–193.