Did you know that every 20 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall? Falls account for nearly 1/3 of all non-fatal injuries in the U.S. Furthermore, falling once doubles your chance of falling again. Falls can be caused by medical conditions and medications, environmental hazards, and many other factors - the good things is that most falls ARE preventable!
Here are 5 simple steps you can take to stop falls before they occur:
1. Discuss fall prevention with your doctor.
Do you have any medical conditions, such as vertigo or low blood pressure? What about the medications you take for your conditions? These factors could be putting you more at risk for a fall! Ask your doctor if any of your medication has side effects that could possibly make falls more likely to happen, such as weakness or sleepiness. Also, make sure to schedule your yearly vision and hearing exams so that sensory deficits don’t increase your risk of falling.
2. Check your home for safety hazards.
Start by removing clutter, such as objects on the floor that could be potential tripping hazards, and make sure there are clear pathways for walking. Also, make sure there is good lighting in each room of your home, and keep a night-light on at night. Avoid decorative rugs and make sure carpets are secured firmly to the floor. Clean up spills quickly to avoid slipping. Remember to be aware of your pets (if you have any), and take precautions to prevent them from getting under your feet, especially while you’re walking. If you use oxygen, take precautions to ensure you won't trip over your tubing.
3. Be aware of outdoor fall risks.
When out and about, be aware of loose or uneven surfaces on sidewalks and driveways. Keep an eye out for a dip in the curb if you are crossing the street. Also, remember that rain, snow, and ice typically cause surfaces to be slippery. If you are out at night, stick to well-lit areas, and if that isn't possible, use a flashlight and consider wearing a reflective vest.
4. Make use of assistive devices.
If you have balance issues, or if you get weak at times, your doctor might suggest a cane or a walker to provide support. To make stairways safer, be sure to have handrails on both sides and put non-slip treads on each step as well. Other assistive devices to prevent falls may include grab bars, and a shower seat in the tub or shower.
5. Stay active and use proper footwear.
Ask your doctor if you can safely participate in exercises such as walking, swimming, or yoga. These types of exercises can increase strength and balance, thereby reducing your risk for a fall. Footwear is also extremely important! Be sure to wear sneakers or closed-toed shoes at all times, and avoid slippers, high heels, or flip flops as they can increase risk of falls.
By following these steps, your risk of falling could be greatly reduced! Many communities have fall prevention programs. To find one in your area, click here!
If you worry about a loved one's safety when you're not around, CAB's Care Partners can stop by daily or weekly and perform wellness checks! Contact us today for more info.
Mayo Clinic Staff. Fall Prevention: Simple Tips to Prevent Falls. Mayoclinic.org. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/healthy-aging/in-depth/fall-prevention/art-20047358. Accessed May 18, 2020.
Important Facts about Falls. CDC.gov. https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html . Acccessed May 18, 2020.
National Council on Aging. Falls Free Initiative. https://www.ncoa.org/healthy-aging/falls-prevention/falls-free-initiative/ Accessed May 18. 2020.
Written By: Care Manager - Lori Thomas