Office of Public Relations

Area trauma centers focus on falls by elderly

Sept. 5, 2013

CHARLESTON – In observation of National Fall Prevention Awareness Day, September 22, The Trauma Association of South Carolina (TASC), the Medical University of South Carolina, Trident Health and Roper St. Francis are joining together to take proactive steps to prevent falls among seniors.

Two out of every ten trauma admissions among people 60 and older are due to fall-related injuries. Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries among older adults.  The chances of falling and of being seriously injured in a fall increase with age.

“We need to raise awareness of the many preventive measures that can be taken to keep our seniors safe,” said Diane Howell, MSN, RN, CCRN, president of TASC and trauma manager at McLeod Health.  In 2011, there were 4,139 fall-related trauma admissions in South Carolina. More than half were falls among adults age 60 and older, and 110 of these patients died due to their injuries.  The total inpatient and emergency department charges were over $7 million for that year alone.

Throughout the state, trauma centers will be celebrating Falls Prevention Awareness Day on September 23, by providing information on how to prevent older adult falls.

Studies show that a combination of interventions can significantly reduce falls among older adults. TASC Recommends:

• Installing grab bars and handrails throughout your home as needed.
• Considering a medical alert monitoring system that offers a fall detector.
• Turning on lights, even if it wakes others. Many falls occur in the evenings when no lights are on.
• Slowing down.  Many falls could be avoided by taking your time.
• Mixing alcohol and some medication can be dangerous.  Medication side effects, such as drowsiness, may be increased with alcohol.
• Carrying a cordless phone or cell phone with you at all times, in case of an emergency.
• Getting rid of throw rugs and low lying furniture because peripheral vision decreases with age.

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