Preventing Senior Slip and Fall Accidents

Slip and fall accidents can cause serious injuries, including broken bones, head trauma, spinal cord injuries, or even death. Senior citizens account for 84 percent of all fatal slip and fall cases, according to the Ohio Department of Health. With the right precautions, older adults and their family members can prevent fatal slip and fall accidents.

Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Clinic launched a slip and fall clinic to assess a person’s fall risk and help them take proper steps to prevent fatal falls inside the home.

Clinic visitors receive a comprehensive assessment that includes medical and fall history as well as balance and gait tests. The clinic also screens patients who may be at an increased risk because of neurological, cognitive or cardiovascular problems.

If a person is deemed a fall risk, he or she may be referred to an outpatient physical therapy program to exercise and strengthen certain muscles and improve range of motion, gait, and endurance to decrease their fall risk.

Local10 News reported about the clinic and offered multiple suggestions for reducing the risk of slip and fall accidents in the home:

  • Remove throw rugs or use double-sided tape to keep rugs from slipping
  • Remove clutter to create clear paths for walking through the home
  • Get up slowly and turn on a light before walking across the room
  • Extend the chain on ceiling fans to make them easily reachable
  • Avoid using step stools or ladders to reach items on high shelves
  • Wear shoes inside the house instead of wearing slippers or walking barefoot
  • Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors
  • Install grab bars inside and outside the shower and next to the toilet
  • Install handrails and lights on all staircases
  • Avoid walking on icy surfaces outside

Dr. Joseph Rosenthal, a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician at the Wexner Medical Center, suggests that patients ask their doctor or pharmacist to review their medications and identify which ones may cause dizziness or drowsiness or lower their blood pressure. Rosenthal also recommends patients receive an annual eye exam to keep up with any changes in vision.

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