(NewsUSA) - Slips and falls are a common cause of injury in the United States, and the risk increases with age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the most common cause of injury deaths, nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma in seniors. But slips and falls are not inevitable -- most can be prevented.
Many falls occur in nursing homes and hospitals. In fact, slips and falls are the leading cause of injury in long-term care facilities. If your loved one is in an assisted living facility or nursing home, ask the management about its fall-prevention plan -- it should have one. You can also evaluate the facility when you visit. Here are some things to look out for:
* Slippery floors. All floors should be level and offer noticeable traction, as canes and walkers require high slip-resistance. Make sure that there are no loose tiles or thick carpets that could cause seniors to trip. And ask how the floors are cleaned -- soap scum can make floors even more slippery.
On the other hand, some manufacturers are producing floor cleaners that increase traction.
* Bright lighting. As seniors age, they need more light to see clearly. Frosted bulbs or lamp shades may help reduce glare. Surface-level changes and obstructions should be clearly marked, whether by color-contrast or light strips. Look for night-lights in residents' rooms, as they improve visibility at night.
* Individual fall-prevention plans. Not all seniors share the same risk. For example, a senior who suffers from dizziness or who is visually impaired is more likely to fall than one who is not. Ask about the particular ways in which the staff will help your loved one avoid falls, such as arranging exercise to increase or retain mobility and training residents in fall prevention.