Of the many health issues that people face as they grow older, slips and falls rank among the more common dangers. In fact, one of four adults over the age of 65 in the United States falls each year, and 95% of hip fractures are a result of falling. More ominously, falls are the leading cause of fatal injury in older adults.
Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to keep you or a loved one on their feet. In the following, we explore five great tips for preventing stumbles and falls.
While it may seem counterintuitive to become more active when you want to avoid falling, the fact is that physical fitness can play a key role in fall prevention. Many falls are due to declining physical fitness and loss of balance, two areas a good exercise regimen can improve.
Exercise, even something as simple as walking, helps strengthen and flex your soft tissues and also prevents bone loss, which is key to avoiding fractures if you do fall.
Another common reason for falling and stumbling is poor eyesight. As you get older, your eyes have a harder time making out smaller objects or seeing in low light. This decline can develop gradually, so we suggest that you get your eyes checked regularly if you’re over the age of 65. A simple pair of corrective lenses can help you better navigate the world around you and avoid many potential hazards.
While we’re on the topic of eyesight, it’s extremely helpful to ensure that the lighting in your home is adequate and that switches and lamps are within easy reach. Things like small plug-in lights in dark areas (stairs and unlit corners) can also go a long way toward lighting your way forward.
While it may be impossible to completely eliminate tripping hazards around you, there are some obvious ones you should tackle first, such as loose throw rugs and exposed cords. The goal is to ensure that your surroundings are battened down, so getting rid of wobbly tables and chairs and keeping paths clear are paramount.
It’s important, too, to stay on top of these efforts. If your grandchildren come over, for example, recognize that kids have a habit of leaving things everywhere, so thoroughly scan your home after they leave.
If you have an assistive device, such as a walker or cane, we urge you to use it at all times. We know it can be frustrating to deal with these devices, but the support they provide is well worth the effort if they keep you from stumbling or falling.
On the home front, we also suggest that you add support where needed. While a sturdy handrail on stairs is crucial, think about those less obvious areas where you might need a little extra help, especially in the bathroom. Rails in the tub or around the toilet are extremely helpful in providing the extra support you need to maneuver in these tight spaces.
This last tip is incredibly valuable. Our team understands the risk factors when it comes to falling, and we thoroughly assess these during your fall risk evaluation. If we identify any potential risk for falls, we work with you to design an appropriate prevention plan that meets your physical needs and your lifestyle goals.
With a few changes on your end and a little help from our end, together we can greatly decrease the risk of falling, allowing you or your loved one to continue a healthy and active life.