Let's Not Fall Down on the Job.... or Anywhere Else
As we and our loved ones age our chances of falling increases, as do the chances for severe injury. Quality of life and loss of independence may be greatly affected. According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2014 about 40% of people ages 55 and older were actively working, or looking for work. This “labor force participation rate” is expected to increase in the oldest population segments - people ages 65-74 and 75 and older. Slips and falls are some of the most common workplace injuries for all ages and are a concern for employees and employers alike.
Studies show that more than 25% of Americans 65 years and older fall each year. One in five falls results in serious injuries such as fractured bones, traumatic brain injuries, and internal injuries. All of these potentially leading to a decline in function. Even a fall that doesn’t cause injury can trigger fear that can overtake one’s life and limit daily activities. Reduced activities can lead to decreased strength, balance, and flexibility - further increasing the likelihood of falls.
There are numerous factors that have been identified as major contributors to the risk of falling. Reduced strength, decreased vision, loss of balance control, and medications are high among them. The environment can further increase the risk of falling due to poor lighting, clutter, slippery and damaged stairs, and hazardous walking surfaces.
There are simple fall prevention strategies to be considered. Among them:
- Consult with medical professionals about general health, medications, and vision. Take the recommended steps to improve overall wellness in these areas.
- With medical approval, participate in suitable physical activities to improve strength, balance, and flexibility.
- Assess your living and working spaces to identify potential hazards. Consider slip resistant mats, remove cords, clutter, and other tripping hazards. Improve lighting and secure or remove loose rugs.
September 22nd is Falls Prevention Awareness Day. Visit the National Council on Aging (NCOA) webpage to learn more about what can be done to help you prevent falls. But don’t wait until September 22nd, the NCOA offers a wealth of fall prevention resources that can help now to make a difference in your life. Beyond numerous safety blogs on the topic, MEMIC is also offering policyholders a free slip and fall prevention webinar on September 27th. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also offers information on reducing fall risks at home.
By Richard Kordell