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North Oaks Shock Trauma Program Encourages "Safe Steps for Seniors" in Support of Fall Prevention during National Trauma Awareness Month

  • Category: In The News
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  • Written By: Laura Hanzo
North Oaks Shock Trauma Program Encourages "Safe Steps for Seniors" in Support of Fall Prevention during National Trauma Awareness Month

According to the American Trauma Society, 2.5 million older patients visit hospital emergency rooms annually due to falls. In Louisiana alone, an average of 9,600 people are hospitalized, and 150 die each year as a result of a fall-related injury.

At North Oaks Medical Center, 245 patients, age 65 or older, were seen in the hospital’s Emergency Department in 2015 for fall-related injuries, according to the hospital’s trauma registry.

Of these 245 patients, 237 were admitted to the hospital as a result of their injuries. Falls are the main source of injury in senior adults. They often lead to further health complications, with one out of every five falls resulting in a head injury or broken bone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But following a few tips can prevent falls and allow many senior adults to keep their health and independence.

In addition, efforts to prevent falls has the potential to save Americans billions in health care costs. The CDC estimates the annual cost of treating falls at $34 billion with the amount projected to double by the year 2020.

To reduce your risk of falling, the North Oaks Trauma Team joins with the American Trauma Society and CDC in encouraging you to take care of your health, make small changes to your home and take extra precautions when hospitalized or living in a nursing home:

Take care of your health.

  • Exercise regularly. Exercise builds strength.
  • Prevent dehydration to improve balance.
  • Have your eyes checked.
  • Talk to your doctor if your medicine makes you sleepy, light-headed, sluggish or confused. Ask how to reduce these side effects or if you can take a different medicine.
  • Turn on the lights when you enter a room.
  • Make sure your pathway is clear.
  • Use the handrails on staircases.
  • Sit in chairs that do not move and have armrests to help when you sit down and stand up.
  • Wear shoes that have firm, flat, non-slip soles. Avoid going barefoot.
  • Replace worn rubber tips on canes and walkers.

Make small changes to your home.

  • Install timers or motion sensors on your lights.
  • Use night lights in your bedroom, bathroom and the hallway leading to the bathroom. Keep the floor and stairs clear of clutter.
  • Remove small area rugs and throw rugs that can slip.
  • Put frequently used items in easy-to-reach places.
  • Make sure it’s easy to get in and out of your bed.
  • Apply non-slip treads on stairs.
  • Apply non-slip decals or use a non-slip mat in the bathtub or shower.
  • Install grab bars near the toilet and the bathtub or shower.

Take extra precautions in the hospital or nursing home. Many falls occur when patients or residents try to get out of bed either to go to the bathroom or walk around the room by themselves. If you need to get out of bed:

  • Use your call button to ask for help getting out of bed if you feel unsteady.
  • Ask for help going to the bathroom or walking around.
  • Wear non-slip socks or footwear.
  • Lower the height of the bed and the side rails.

The North Oaks Shock Trauma Program offers coordinated care and trauma surgeons in-house at all times to attend to victims suddenly stricken by serious traumatic injury. The program serves patients in Region 9 (Tangipahoa, Livingston, St. Helena, St. Tammany and Washington Parishes), and its team is voluntarily working toward the hospital becoming an American College of Surgeons-verified Level II Trauma Center. In addition, the program is part of the Louisiana Emergency Response Network, an agency of state government created to develop and maintain a statewide system of care coordination for trauma patients.