by Dedra Jize, OT, CSA
Geriatric Care Manager, Law Offices of Roy W. Litherland
A trip or stumble can easily become a fall to the ground for an older adult, which can have devastating consequences physically, emotionally, and financially. Fall statistics have improved over the years for older adults aged 65+, but they are still unacceptable as one-fourth of older adults will fall each year. The unsettling fact is that a senior falls every 11 seconds resulting in a trip to the emergency room, and many of those will be hospitalized (National Council on Aging, 2017).
What can you do to help prevent yourself or a loved one from falling? There are several ways if you are willing to take small steps (no pun intended):
- Observe yourself as you walk. Are you holding on to furniture, touching walls down a hallway, or running your hand along the kitchen counter? These may be signs of balance or vision issues and should be addressed.
- Have a conversation. Talk to a family member or doctor about any concerns you have about falling. Many people say, “That’s not going to happen to me,” even if they have had falls in the past. Be honest about the reality of how aging affects the body and how balance, vision, reaction time, physical fitness, and chronic conditions can result in a fall.
- Discuss your current health condition with a family member or doctor. Are you taking your medications as prescribed? Any side
effects? Can these affect balance or vision? Make an appointment with your physician if you have any concerns or if it’s been over a year since you have had a physical.
- Have an eye exam. Are you using current prescription eye glasses or the ones from 10 years ago? Are they tinted or transitions which take a moment for the change to occur? Do you have bifocals? These can make stairs a real hazard. Are there any eye conditions such as cataracts or macular degeneration impacting your vision? All these should be addressed by a professional.
- Overcome the stigma of appearances. Relinquish the heels or floppy sandals for secure shoes with little or no heels and rubber soles for traction. If a doctor or therapist suggests a cane, use it! There are many ‘designer’ canes made now that you can find at your local drug store.
- Have a Home Safety Assessment performed by a professional. Your home is the one place where you have the most control of your environment, so let’s make it the safest one. Clear the floors, brighten the lighting, and install grab bars inside and outside of your home. A professional will give you specific ways to make your home safer. What was acceptable when you were in your 30’s may not be suitable in your 70’s.
Falls are not age discriminative, but the older we get, the greater the adverse impact can be from a ‘simple’ fall. Don’t end up in the Emergency Room for something that could have been prevented.
If you would like more information about fall prevention or would like to schedule an appointment for a Home Safety Assessment, call our office at (408) 356-9200 or (831) 476-2400 and talk to our Geriatric Care Manager, Dedra Jize.
ABOUT THE LAW OFFICE OF ROY W. LITHERLAND
Roy W. Litherland is an attorney whose practice emphasizes elder law and estate planning. Roy has practiced law in the greater Bay Area for over 35 years and is certified as a legal specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization. In addition to his extensive legal background, Roy was also previously licensed as a Certified Public Accountant. Although Roy has an extensive background in accounting, he retired his license to practice as a CPA to devote his time and energy entirely to the practice of law, specializing in estate planning, trusts, Medi-Cal planning, and probate. Roy is a noted speaker on living trusts, Medi-Cal Planning, and estate planning. He is a member and designated Fellow of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, an organization that fosters excellence in estate planning.
Dedra Jize joined the Law Office of Roy W. Litherland in February 2013. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy from San Jose State University and is a Certified Senior Advisor and Geriatric Care Manager. Dedra has worked as a Caregiver Support Coordinator and Activity Assistant for the Alzheimer’s Activity Center in San Jose, as a Foster Care Provider with Advent Group Ministries, and as an Occupational Therapist at Good Samaritan Hospital. Dedra works to help our senior clients and their families with Medicare issues, and Medi-Cal applications and representations. She provides psycho-social assessments of health care needs, develop individualized plans for care, evaluate the specific needs of clients, and makes recommendations when applicable for home care services, independent living communities, assisted living facilities, and nursing facilities. Her goal in working with clients is to advocate on behalf of the senior, and to enhance the quality of life of both the older adult and his or her family.
The Law Office of Roy W. Litherland is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform.