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How to prevent a “Zsa Zsa” fall, hip fracture

Posted Jul 25 2010 12:00am - Approximately 66 million Americans care for their aging parents and each year, one in three older Americans fall in their own home. Just this week, 93 year-old actress Zsa Zsa Gabor fell out of bed and broke her hip; ultimately she required hip replacement surgery. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) knows that a fall in the home can be both life threatening and debilitating. Older Americans and their caregivers can take a proactive approach using the following AAOS guidelines to help keep seniors fall and injury-free.

Tips to Prevent Falls in the Home:

• Eliminate all tripping hazards, such as loose rugs in the home.
• Install grab bars or handrails on both sides of the stairway and other safety devices near bathtubs and beds.
• Place a lamp or flashlight near the bed.
• Keep clutter – like pets’ toys or papers – off the bedroom floor.
• Replace satiny bed sheets with products made of non-slippery material; i.e. wool or cotton.
• Arrange furniture to allow a clear pathway between rooms.
• Secure loose rugs with double-faced tape, tacks or slip-resistant backing.
• Keep stairs clear of packages, boxes or other clutter.
• Install light-switches at the top and bottom of the stairs. Or, try motion-detector lights that turn on automatically.
• Put non-slip treads on each bare-wood step.
• Consider adding rails to the bed to prevent the sleeping person from rolling off.
• Keep track of pets, as these creatures are responsible for more than 86,000 fall-related injuries each year.

Dress to prevent falls:

• Wear properly-fitting shoes or slippers with non-skid soles, throughout the home and especially on stairs.
• Replace slippers that have stretched out of shape and are too loose.
• Never walk with socks or stockings on hardwood floors.
• Think about wearing an alarm device that will bring help in case you cannot get up from a fall.

AAOS has more resources on falls on these web pages:

Guidelines for preventing falls

Getting up from a fall

Lifting techniques for caregivers

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