Injuries resulting from falls in older adults are a major public-health concern. They represent one of the main causes of longstanding pain, functional impairment, disability, and death in this population. The rate of these injuries is steadily increasing as the number of adults 65+ continues to grow.
Many recommendations and programs to prevent injuries from falls exist. These fall prevention recommendations include:
Getting regular exercise, taking vitamin D and calcium supplements, withdrawing from depression and anxiety medication, undergoing cataract surgery, opting for professional environmental hazard assessment modification, wearing hip protectors, and joining multifactorial preventive programs.
Overall, many falls can be prevented. Older adults, with help from their families or senior living community staff members, have the power to reduce their risk of and protect themselves from a serious fall.
Stay safe by following these tips:
- Find a good balance: Good balance starts from the ground up; your footwear is the foundation of your stability. Make sure you are wearing shoes that are comfortable and support your feet. A shoe with a wider base provides more surface area on which to balance your weight, increasing stability. Consider buying shoes with Velcro straps instead of shoe laces to prevent from tripping.
- Maintain a daily exercise routine: Exercising on a regular basis can strengthen muscles and increase flexibility. Focusing on specific areas of the body, such as improving core strength, can reduce the risk of falling by increasing balance and mobility. In addition, changing aspects about home or senior living environment can reduce hazards and improve your ability to complete daily activities without injury.
- Keep your home safe: Increase lighting throughout the home, especially at the top and bottom of stairs. Ensure that lighting is easily accessible when getting up in the middle of the night. Make sure there are two secure rails on all stairs. Install grab bars in the tub/shower and near the toilet. Make sure they’re installed in well-traveled places. Lastly, consider using a shower chair and hand-held shower.
- Get your vision and hearing checked: Your eyes and ears are key to keeping you on your feet. If you wear glasses, make sure you are getting the right prescription lenses and that the prescription is updated on a yearly basis. It’s also important to have a pair of prescription sunglasses on hand to improve the quality of your vision as well as protect against the sun.
- Regularly review your medications with your doctor or pharmacist: Some medications can cause dizziness and other symptoms that make balance difficult. Before taking any new medications, make sure the side effects do not lead to an increased risk of falling. Only take up-to-date prescribed medications from your doctor.
- Talk to family members and friends: A simple weekly phone call or check up by a family member to ensure continued health and safety can go a long way in preventing falls in older adults. Family members can help install equipment throughout the house or alert senior living community staff members to any issues that may lead to a fall in the future.