Fall prevention for seniors can be difficult but not impossible. It’s important for healthcare providers and senior care agencies to educate seniors, along with their families and caregivers, on the severity of falls and different ways to reduce fall risks.
The Necessity of Preventing Falls
According to the CDC, one out of every five falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones, fractured hip, or a head injury. And for seniors, over 800,000 patients a year are hospitalized due to a fall injury.
As we age, physical changes and health conditions can make falls more likely. The CDC lists the following as risk factors:
- Lower body weakness
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Difficulties with walking and balance
- Use of certain medications
- Vision problems
- Foot pain or improper footwear
- Home hazards, including uneven steps
Despite these risk factors, falls can still be prevented with the help of healthcare providers and caregivers. With precautionary measures and actively monitoring health conditions and surroundings, the risk of falling can be greatly reduced.
Fall Prevention Tips
Be active. With your doctor’s approval, regularly participate in light activities such as walking, water aerobics, tai chi, or yoga. Being active will help to keep your joints moving and strengthen your muscles. Participating in physical activity can also improve balance and coordination, and overall, lessen your chances of falling.
Review Medications. Talk to your doctor about what types of medications you are taking. Certain medication side effects can make you tired or cause dizziness. Your doctor can help identify some prevention strategies and see if there are any alternatives to the medicines you are taking. Additionally, speak to your doctor about any existing health conditions you have that may impact your balance. Your doctor can evaluate any disorders you may have and recommend the proper treatment.
Check your vision and hearing at least once a year. Having these checks done annually can help your doctor catch any vision or hearing loss, and implement the correct remedy. Some ear and eye conditions can increase your risk of falling due to dizziness or vision problems. Be sure to get these issues evaluated as soon as possible to prevent them from getting worse.
Choose sensible footwear. Opt for well-fitting shoes with nonslip soles instead of loose slippers or shoes with heels. Wearing practical shoes will not only help you stay balanced and sturdy, but it can also help reduce joint pain.
Fall Prevention at Home
Add grab bars and handrails. Installing these safety tools in your home can help with managing stairs, using the bathroom, and getting in and out of the bathtub without injuring yourself. When using these aids, taking your time is key to safety!
At night, make sure that your hallways and bedrooms are well lit. Lighting plays a large role in decreasing falls. When a cramped area is poorly lit, it can easily create a dangerous situation. Make sure that light switches and lamps are in easy to reach places so in the event that you need to walk to another area at night, you aren’t forced to do it in the dark.
Decrease clutter. The fewer items that are in your way, the safer you can navigate the space in your home. Uneven surfaces are much more difficult to navigate and can cause an unsafe situation. As much as it might be inconvenient to pick up clothing, shoes, boxes or other materials, keeping your floors absent of obstacles will make your home safer
Use a non-slip bath mat. After a shower or bath, your bathroom floor can become damp or slippery. Either have a towel or a mat ready to walk on so you don’t slip.
Store frequently used items in an easy to reach place. Many kitchens are built with cabinets that are too high to access without the help of a ladder or a step stool. Seniors that have joint pain and trouble with balance should avoid using ladders and step stools. Instead, use the first shelf for items used daily. This will prevent any dangerous accidents from happening.
Move slowly throughout your home. Make sure you allow yourself enough time to carefully navigate your home. Most of the time, the faster you are moving, the more clumsy and unbalanced you will become. Never be in a rush, even if you need to get something from another room or go to the television in time to catch a TV show. Rushing around your home is never worth it because it increases your chances of tripping and falling.
Preventing Falls = Preventing Injuries
Preventing falls means preventing injury. By using and following fall prevention techniques you are taking control of your health. Remember that these are not the only fall prevention tips, and this is not a singular journey! Talk to your doctor, and involve your family and friends. Working together can help everyone stay safe!