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Falls Prevention

Falls Prevention Falls Prevention


by Katya Lukina

staff writer

Every 11 seconds an older adult is treated in the emergency room for injuries sustained in a fall, and every 19 minutes one dies after falling. In Leisure World, monthly Security reports list dozens of falls, many of which can be prevented.

So it was no surprise that an overflow crowd piled into Clubhouse 4 on Sept. 21 for a presentation by Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) education specialist Elizabeth Denney on how to prevent falls.

The special event was held to mark National Falls Prevention Week.

Oftentimes, the consequences of a fall can lead to serious injury, financial hardship and long-term medical care. Denney shared valuable tips on fireproofing homes and preventing falls, along with educational materials and checklists. She also covered senior fall statistics, top causes and consequences of falls, and falls prevention and hazards. One in three adults aged 65 and older fall each year, with 2030% of those suffering moderate to severe injuries. Knowing and checking on neighbors and having contacts available in case of emergency are ways to enhance neighbor safety in a tight knit community like Leisure World.

Many factors contribute to falls in older adults. Chronic health conditions, medications’ side effects and home hazards are the top three causes of falls.

Denney recommends minimizing medications’ side effects by taking them with meals and reviewing them with primary doctors or pharmacists. They will help residents be aware of what medications should be eaten with meals and which ones come with fall-risk warnings.

She also advises people to see an eye doctor regularly and update eyeglasses if needed.

Making homes safer can also prevent falls. Denney recommends identifying natural changes that come with aging and adapting homes to make them safer. For example, people can replace throw rugs with nonslippery ones (use non-skid pads under rugs to add stability); keep walkways clear; remove clutter from high traffic areas; immediately clean up messes and spills; and remove electrical cords from walkways. (Never place them under rugs.) People can also keep areas well-lit with nightlights and motion sensor lights (solar lights for outdoors); clean with products that tend to keep the floors grippy instead of slippery; install easy-to-grip handrails and non-slip treads around the home; add grab bars outside the shower or tub near the toilet; rearrange cabinets and drawers to keep frequently used items within reach and keep a sturdy step stool nearby. Other practical lifestyle changes include staying hydrated; eating balanced meals and keeping snacks handy to prevent drops in blood pressure; exercising regularly to improve strength and balance (such as tai chi or yoga); and wearing safe, sturdy shoes. Denney concluded her presentation with a Q& A session covering fire-smart landscaping, reporting Mutual hazards (unsafe walkways) and decluttering high traffic areas. She advised people to talk to an expert when it comes to electrical outlets and their safe usage and pay close attention to their surroundings while walking.

In case of a fall, Denney recommends:

• Staying put (don’t move or get up).

• Calling 911.

• Answering paramedics’ questions, including being specific about the circumstances that lead up to the fall and why it might have happened.

The OCFA is a regional fire service agency that services 23 cities and unincorporated areas throughout Orange County, over 1.9 million residents and 77 fire stations. The OCFA Community Education and Outreach program provides a variety of free services and resources for the community including disaster preparedness; fire safety; drowning prevention; Ready, Set, Go!; fire extinguisher training; and smoke alarm programs.

For more information, visit or call (714) 573-6200.

Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) education specialist Elizabeth Denney talks to LW residents after a presentation on how to prevent falls.—Katya Lukina, photo

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