Nearly 25 percent of older Americans will fall this year, leading to a variety of serious injuries. Falling is the leading cause of injuries and deaths among people over age 65, resulting in fractures and brain injuries. Although falls are common among senior citizens, they can be prevented with modifications in the home and lifestyle changes. Here are five ways to help prevent falls among older individuals.
Slippery surfaces can contribute to falls. Wearing shoes around the house will help give some extra traction. If shoes are uncomfortable for long periods, socks with non-slip bottoms can also provide some extra grip. The kind of shoes a person wears could also make a big difference. Skip the high heels and soft slippers and trade them in for well-fitting shoes with supportive soles. Shoes may be a small item to change, but wearing the right kind of shoes can greatly reduce the risk of a fall.
Everyday tasks can be difficult when falling is a concern. Install handrails and bars around the home to help make moving around easier. Handrails in the tub and shower, near the toilet and in hallways and stairwells will provide some much-needed support. Use a chair in the shower and a handheld showerhead for a safer shower. Activities that were once completed without much thought can be easy again with a few upgrades.
Increase safety at home
Simple things in the home can become hazards when a person is more likely to suffer falls. Make improvements around the house to remove obstacles that can cause someone to slip or trip. Clean up clutter and move furniture out of the way to make it easier to move about the house. Repair loose flooring, remove rugs that stick up and move cords that pose a tripping hazard. Make sure pathways are well-lit so the home can be easily navigated.
Aging brings with it a loss of some strength and balance, which makes it easier to fall. Exercise regularly to improve strength and balance and reduce the risk of a fall. Low impact exercises like walking, tai chi, yoga and water aerobics improve strength, flexibility and balance. These exercises help seniors to remain independent and active while avoiding falls.
Visit the doctor
Falls are one of the most common issues affecting seniors, but many people do not talk to their doctor about the problem. Including a doctor in preventing strategies is crucial. “Some medical conditions and medications can increase the risk of a fall,” says Mallory Moore, Director of Nursing at Mission Hills Post Acute Care. “Talk to a doctor about the side effects of prescribed medications and find out if any prescriptions may interact to cause dizziness.” Talk to the doctor about any previous falls and what risk factors may lead to another fall.
Related link: Bouncing back from accidental falls
When falling is a daily hazard, common activities can seem frightening and people may begin to avoid things they once enjoyed. While slipping and falling leads to thousands of injuries every year, most falls can be prevented. With preventative measures and exercise, the risk of a fall can be reduced and independence regained.
This article was originally published by The Daily Herald and republished here with permission.