This time of year, when the sidewalks get slippery from snow and ice, we all need to take extra precautions to stay safe out there. For older Americans, it is especially important. Seniors are more likely to have a slip and fall accident, and when it happens, the consequences are severe.

Elderly Americans are more likely to fall than any other demographic.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 3 adults age 65 and over fall every year. While millions of nonfatal injuries among elders are treated in emergency rooms, many of these incidents are deadly. Slip and falls are the fifth leading cause of death for elders — 40% of all fatal injuries among the demographic stem from these accidents.

Hip fractures are one of the most common injuries among older people who have fallen. These injuries are serious — many people do not fully recover from a hip fracture. Rather, they experience significantly reduced mobility, which profoundly affects their quality of life. Even more devastating, 25% of elders who fractured a hip die within a year.

People over the age of 65 face unique risk factors.

1) Age-related health issues.

Many health conditions common in elders increase their risk of falls. For example, eye and ear disorders can cause low vision and slower reaction time.

2) Medication side effects.

Many common side effects of prescription medication — dizziness, confusion, or drowsiness — also add to the risk. Those taking four or more medications are most likely to fall. It is important to always discuss medication with your doctor, even if it’s over the counter, and keep track of how you feel.

3) Environmental hazards.

Many of the common environmental hazards that contribute to slip and falls, like poor lighting and slippery floors, are even more dangerous for elders. Sadly, most of these accidents could have been easily avoided. Something as small as an object on the stairs can make or break a senior’s health.

There are simple ways to prevent the worst-case scenario.

1) Stay active.

Many seniors limit their exercise because they’re afraid of falling, but research has shown that, on top of all the other benefits of exercise, it significantly lowers the risk of an accident. Simple balancing exercises are a good place to start.

2) Remove hazards from your home.

As I mentioned above, slip and falls related to environmental hazards are quite easy to prevent. Too many people don’t take the time to remove boxes and cords from walkways, or to store necessities within easy reach. This is a true shame because doing so can make all the difference.

In some cases, small repairs might be needed to make your home safe. But those investments are worth it.

3) Use assistive devices when necessary.

Canes, walkers, and other devices can help keep a senior steady while on the go. Others to consider: Grab bars for showers, raised toilet seats, and handrails for stairways.

4) Shovel your driveways!

Winter is one of the most dangerous times for slip and falls. Help ensure the safety of others by removing weather-related hazards from your property, in a timely matter.

If there’s an elder in your life, make sure they have a strong support system in you and their doctor. If a person falls once, they, understandably, often develop a fear of falling again. Talk to a doctor about potential changes — whether it’s switching the medication plan or seeking help from an occupational therapist — and safeguard your home so that your loved one can settle back into their routine.

Talk to a Memphis Slip and Fall Lawyer

If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident, our Memphis slip and fall attorneys can help. Our lawyers are known for our compassion and our results. We understand the emotional toll of an accident, and we have helped thousands of injured people get the compensation they need and deserve.

Contact me today to get started. The conversation is absolutely free.