Falls can start a downward spiral; work to prevent them

photo by: Mike Yoder for Lawrence Memorial Hospital

Members of the tai chi classes at Lawrence Memorial Hospital enjoy improving their strength and mobility as well as enjoying the company of others. Pictured here are members of Adrineh Mehdikhani’s intermediate tai chi class. Classes are held at Sports Pavilion Lawrence.

Falls can happen anywhere, at any time. The fall rate is increasing significantly, especially by those ages 65 and over. Since 2007, the number of falls have gone up by 30 percent.

Kenna Young, trauma coordinator in the Lawrence Memorial Hospital emergency department, stresses the importance of fall prevention and the steps people can take toward better long-term health.

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that at the rate fall incidents are rising, there will be seven fall deaths a day by 2030.

“The numbers are staggering,” Young said. “I want to empower our patients to stay safe.”

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When someone falls, it typically begins a downward spiral for their health. Young described how someone’s health can be affected after a serious fall.

“Often we see people in the ER who have fallen. Whether that is because of tripping and falling on a rug or wearing bad shoes, they fall and they typically fracture their hips or hurt their head,” Young said. “These injuries can ultimately lead to death. They fall and from there, their health starts to gradually slide downhill and it worsens much quicker and leads to quicker severe issues.”

The best way to avoid falling is by being aware and being cautious. Pay attention to the type of shoes you wear and rugs in your household. Falls are largely preventable. Talk with your local health care provider to get preventive options. Preventive options offered by LMH include physical strength classes like tai chi.

Tai chi is a low-impact, gentle way to exercise and gain strength. It benefits the body in a few ways, from reducing stress to self-defense and movement. LMH offers three different levels of this class that take place twice a week on Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday, depending on your desired level.

Join LMH for the Aug. 14 Senior Supper program about fall prevention and learn how you or a family member can prevent falls before they happen.

For more information about tai chi, visit lmh.org/wellness/fit-for-life/.

Watch the socks

At Lawrence Memorial Hospital, patients with yellow socks are at risk for falls. For the patient’s safety their sock color lets guests, nurses and physicians know that they need help getting up, walking around and even if they are just going to the bathroom. With the rate of falls increasing the way it is, preventing falls is one of the main concerns when talking about patient safety.

— Jessica Brewer is an intern in the Marketing and Communications Department at LMH, which is a major sponsor of the Lawrence Journal-World’s Health section. She can be reached at Jessica.Brewer@lmh.org.


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