How to Prevent Falls
As we age and our bodies become less strong and flexible, we can become more susceptible to falling. Complicating this are medical conditions, medications, and other age-related issues such as vision changes and loss of coordination.
Today, falling is a leading cause of injury among seniors. Take action against future falls, by following these simple steps.
- Make an appointment with your physician to discuss the potential of falling. Bring a list of medications that you are currently taking, be sure to talk to your doctor about any falls you have taken in the past, and understand how medical conditions may increase your risk of falling.
- Stay moving. Studies have shown that seniors who exercise regularly significantly reduce their risk of falling. Low impact exercising including walking, gentle yoga, and swimming, can help improve flexibility, strength and balance. Talk to your doctor about your fitness regime. They may suggest alternative exercises or refer you to an occupational or physical therapist to help you avoid future falls.
- Choose supportive shoes. Wearing certain shoes, like those that are high heeled or hard soled, carries risk at any age. For seniors who may have balance challenges, the risk is even greater. Avoid wearing shoes with heels or with soles made of slick materials like wood. Instead, wear comfortable, supportive shoes with nonskid soles.
- Eliminate home hazards. Do a complete walk-through in your home and eliminate everything that could cause you to fall. Check that rugs are secured with double-sided tape, hallways are void of boxes, shoes, or other items, move electric and phone cords away from high traffic areas, and clean up any spills immediately.
- Add anti-fall devices. Make sure that you have extra protection against falls by adding non-slip mats to your bathtub and shower, add handrails to stairways, place night lights and sensory activated lights to your bedroom and bathroom area, and make sure there is a clear path to light switches.
- Consider an emergency alert device. If you live alone or in a larger home with multiple floors, it may benefit you to wear an emergency alert device. If you fall, you can press a button that alerts the nearest emergency response team or 911.
If you do fall, don’t panic. Even with limited mobility, you can safely pick yourself up after a fall. Immediately after you fall, stop and take a few deep breaths and relax. Then, ask yourself if you’re in pain. If you are, get as comfortable as possible and contact 911 or call a loved one for help.
If, after you fall, you decide you are safe to sit upright, employ a little creativity and make use of the objects and space around you to get up. This video offers a number of ways to get standing again after a fall.