More than half of older people who sustained injuries from falling said the last time they fell was in their homes, the Health Promotion Administration said, urging people living with older family members to perform a home safety evaluation.
The agency chose the Double Ninth Festival — the ninth day of the ninth lunar month, which this year is today — to remind people living with older relatives to be particularly careful to maintain a safe home environment in a bid to help prevent falls, which can cause serious injuries or even death.
According to a 2013 survey conducted by the administration, 16.5 percent of older people had fallen down at least once in the previous year, with 56.3 percent of falls occurring at home.
A study showed that the home environment and chronic diseases were the two main factors causing older people to fall down, the agency said, adding that older people with two or more chronic diseases are 1.88 times more likely to fall than those without diseases.
Chronic Disease Control Division official Chia Shu-li (賈淑麗) said that the risk of falls can be reduced by improving safety at home.
The agency has created a home safety evaluation checklist that people should focus on, which covers 10 aspects: floors; lighting; stairs; bathrooms; kitchens; living rooms; bedrooms; clothing and shoes; hearing aids and canes; and the outdoor environment near homes.
A few examples of items to check for include: Are the edges of carpets or mats curled up or folded? Are items scattered on the floor? Are light switches at the top and bottom of staircases? Are safety rails installed around toilets? Is there a bedroom light switch near the bed?
Many older people fall when they are changing positions, such as transitioning from lying or sitting down to standing, because people with chronic diseases can be affected by sudden dizziness or postural hypotension and lose their balance, Chia said.
The most common injuries from falling down that older people sustain are in limbs and hip fractures, she said.
The agency has approved 228 healthcare facilities nationwide — including 156 hospitals, 29 health departments and 43 long-term care facilities — that provide services for people living with older family members, she added.
Chia said the home safety evaluation checklist can be found on the agency’s Web site: www.hpa.gov.tw/BHPNet/Web/Easy/FormCenterShow.aspx?No=201506240001.
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