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Falling in your home is serious and possibly fatal, experts say

Posted at 6:00 AM, Apr 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-09 15:37:11-04

LORENA, TX — In-home falls pose as the third highest unintentional injury or death in a home. As you grow older that chance increases.

According to the CDC, one out of five falls cause a serious injury and over 800,000 patients are hospitalized a year because of an in-home fall.

Baylor Scott and White Hillcrest aligns with these numbers as they are treating falling patients daily.

"Out of our trauma registry where we see 1,200 patients a year, at least 50-55 percent is falls," said Melissa Dorsch-Bathrick, Trauma Performance Improvement Coordinator.

Out of those daily patients, WIlliam Maley, recently needed to stay at the hospital after falling while trying to help a friend.

"I saw his garbage can was in the middle of the road," Maley said.

When Maley went to wheel the can back to the sidewalk, he missed his footing and fell into a ditch causing his hip to hit the concrete and break.

"You could of heard me scream all the way to the courthouse," Maley said. "It was an unbearable pain."

Still in shock he couldn't believe what had just happened, his phone was in the car and he couldn't call 911. Thankfully his wife was walking up the road and saw him slip.

If you are someone who lives alone and has an in-home fall, make sure you have a device on you that can call 911 at all times. If you find that you don't have your phone around or another device, make sure you talk to a friend or family member to have them check on you periodically.

After surgery, Maley needed to visit the in patient rehab center at Hillcrest. He was determined and ready to get back on track with his normal life.

"If they asked me to do 10, I did 12. If they asked me to do four I did six," Maley said.

Some have a hard time in physical therapy after a fall but having a mind set like Maley, the road to recovery can be a little easier.

"So he was in and out in a fairly short amount of stay and I think that was attributed to his hard working ethic that he had," Melissa Krieg said, Physical Therapist Assistant.

Once home the therapy can't stop, you have to constantly be working your body to figure out how to regain the more natural movement you once had. Maley couldn't believe the moments he took for granted like putting on socks, he now needs a little help from a sock slider.

"You have to always watch where you are stepping," Maley said. "You have to use your hands first before you sit down."

With bruises, a piece of iron and staples in his hip, Maley now lives by a new motto moving forward.

"I'll just think what I'm going to do before I do it," Maley said. "And if the garbage cart is out in the middle of the road it's just out in the middle of the road I'm not going to bother with that at all."

Tips to keeping your home safer: preventing a fall

There is a lot you can do to keep your home safer, for starters get rid of things you can trip over. Move little furniture, small toys, rugs and wires/cords out from any walkways.

You can also add grab bars inside and outside your tub, make sure your home has lots of lights so you can see where you are going and lastly make sure you have railings on all sets of stairs.

Some are more prone to falling than others.

The CDC states that research conducted has shown that others are more prone to falling, below these are called risk factors. Most falls are caused by a combination of a few of these risk factors but many can be changed or modified to lower that risk.

  • Lower body weakness
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Difficulties with walking and balance
  • Use of medicines, such as tranquilizers, sedatives, or antidepressants. Even some over-the-counter medicines can affect balance and how steady you are on your feet.
  • Vision problems
  • Foot pain or poor footwear
  • Home hazards or dangers such as
    • broken or uneven steps, and
    • throw rugs or clutter that can be tripped over.

For more information on in home falls visit the websites listed below:

Safety at home

Important facts about falls

Falls in the elderly statistics