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Falls are a significant cause of injury and death among older adults, particularly elderly women. Risk of a trip and fall is important among both community dwelling elders and those residing in institutions as 30% of people over 65 years of age living in the community fall each year, and nearly half of older adults living in an institution fall. A key concern regarding [an elderly fall] is that more than half of those who fall will likely suffer additionally falls over time. Furthermore, injuries are the fifth leading cause of death among the elderly, and 80% of these injuries are the result of falling. Among those over 65 who trip and fall, 20% need medical attention (5% for fractures, including head injuries). Statistics regarding falls generally double for women over the age of 75 because of the high incidence of osteoporosis. (University of Florida/IFAS Department of Family, Youth and Community Science newsletter).
Aren’t those nasty statistics? Within my own family, I know of several falls experienced by various aging relatives in the past few years. And that’s only the ones they have told me about! Falls aren’t limited just to seniors though, as many of us in the Sandwich Generation know well. My grandkids have all taken a number of spills and I’ve even been known to trip and fall on occasion, usually when chasing grandkids :).
Not only that, I’ve come close to slipping and falling several more times in various wet situations, more commonly known as the shower. Fortunately I installed grab bars for all my bathrooms a few years ago in case my aging parents ever moved in with me, which they eventually did.Having those already installed when they were getting settled was great. They’ve also been a big blessing for me over the years, saving me from landing on the ground a couple of times, not to mention being a great money saver, since medical expenses dealing with a trip and fall are higher than ever!
The first time I installed grab bars for the bathrooms was in a brand new house. I had the builder put a bathtub grab bar by each tub along with toilet grab bars in every bathroom. Three years later, after my dad was safely in heaven, I managed to break my ankle, BIG TIME! One operation, one plate and several pins and screws later, I was again grateful for my grab bars. I spent six weeks on bed rest, being allowed up only occasionally, mostly for trips to the bathroom. Having the grab bars for each of the bathrooms to help me get up and down gently without putting weight on my ankle helped my healing and my attitude immeasurably.
When my mom and I moved to a 75 year old house, the bathroom needed some work done to it. While the repairmen were working, I had them add shower and toilet grab bars. I even had them replace the towel holder with a grab bar. It may not be the most chic look, but once you have towels on you really don’t notice it. And if one of us was falling and grabbed the towel rack (which I’ve read about happening more than once), we would be safely hanging on instead of laying on the ground holding a broken towel rack!
We are currently in an apartment without grab bars and I realized that is something I will need to ask about the next time we move. The bathrooms are pretty small so we can probably grab the sink, but having shower and toilet grab bars here would definitely be wise in case one of us again has to recuperate from any kind of illness or surgery.
My Online Medical Supplies can be a good resource for many of these products. Later this week, I’ll be sharing some other good resources for grab bars for bathrooms and beyond, along with a couple of other bathroom products that are wonderful for aging parents and others in need of a little extra help in the bathroom. Y’all come back now, you hear. 🙂 And while you're at it, why not sign up for the FREE SandwichINK email for plenty of great info and resources for Sandwich Generation senior home care givers and grandparents? 🙂