Wheeling Hospital has embarked on a program to prevent falls at home, the No. 1 cause of injuries seen in patients at its Emergency-Trauma Center.
SLIP, or Senior Lifestyle and Injury Prevention, is under the direction of Kim Auten, a registered nurse and trauma program manager. SLIP, developed by the Michigan Trauma Nurse Council, has been adopted by the Society of Trauma Nurses as part of its strategy to promote independence through injury prevention.
"According to our records, falls account for the highest number of injuries we see in the Emergency-Trauma Center," Auten said. "The risk increases with age. And each year, falls occur in about one-third of people 75 years or older who are living in their homes. And those 65 years of age and older are disproportionately at risk for poor outcomes."
Kim Auten, a registered nurse and trauma program manager at Wheeling Hospital, shows a volunteer how to use grab bars and railings for support to avoid falls in the home or in public settings.
Photo by Linda Comins
She said the increased risk may be the result of changes that come with aging, such as changes in vision, hearing, muscle tone and reflexes, or other medical conditions including arthritis, cataracts or hip surgery.
"We want to help people identify hazards in the home and show them how to take simple steps to correct them in order to prevent unforeseen injuries," Auten said.
To introduce the SLIP program to area residents, Auten is available to make presentations to local senior citizen groups, service clubs and other organizations.
The half-hour presentations, which include a Power Point program, include topics on fall prevention, home safety, motor vehicle safety and pedestrian safety. Two longer programs combine information from the shorter presentations.
"Even the simple tasks of daily living can put older adults at risk for injury," Auten said. "Seniors are hospitalized for fall-related injuries five times more often than they are for injuries from other causes. The majority of these falls occur at home, and 60 percent result in an emergency department visit. And those who fall are two to three times more likely to fall again."
For more information on the SLIP program, or to arrange a presentation by Auten, call 304-243-3569.