Simple tips to prevent falls
Published 5:46 am Saturday, September 16, 2023
By Alethea Bruzek
UK-Boyle County Extension
It is important to think about falls as you age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four adults 65 and older falls each year. Falls are the leading cause of injury among older adults. Injury includes broken bones and head injuries. Health conditions, medication and other changes associated with aging can increase fall risk. Fear of falling can limit people’s activity and negatively affect life quality. Falls and the fear of falling can also limit a person’s ability to remain independent. The CDC reports that one fall doubles the chance of falling again. The Mayo Clinic suggests the following list of fall prevention tips:
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Talk to a health-care provider. Health-care providers can help assess fall risk and discuss strategies to help you prevent and think about fall prevention. For example, a health-care provider can review and assess prescription and nonprescription medication and talk to you about side effects and interactions that could increase fall risk and options for prevention. They can also talk to you about supplements and nutrition. It is important to talk to your health-care provider about your fall history, including times you almost fell and falls that seemed to be “justifiable.” The details surrounding a fall can help your provider better assess what is going on. When talking about falls, it is also important to share other health conditions, like anything going on with vision, dizziness, joint pain, trouble getting up and down, shortness of breath, changes in gait, etc.
Get your vision checked. To be sure your eyes are healthy and eyeglass prescriptions are appropriate, the CDC recommends having your eyes checked at least once a year. Eye doctors can also assess whether you are using the right type of lens for safety.
Move more and sit less. Gentle exercises that promote movement, muscle strengthening, balance, coordination and flexibility are great activities to help prevent falls. If you are unsure what to do or have a fear of falling, talk to your health-care provider or a physical therapist to create a program specifically for your ability.
Assess your home for hazards. Most falls happen at home. To make your home safer, remove clutter, secure or remove loose rugs, repair broken or loose floorboards, thresholds and steps. Be sure hallways and stairwells are well lit. Store dishes, food, clothes, cleaning supplies and other items in your home on shelves or in cupboards that provide easy-to-reach access. Assess your bathroom for nonslip shower mats and properly mounted grab bars. Use proper lighting, which includes night lights at night, lamps by the bed, illuminated hallways, etc. Install railings on both sides of the stairs.
Invest in assistive devices. An occupational or physical therapist can make referrals and assess the need for assistive devices such as a raised toilet seat with armrests, grab bars and shower seats for bathtubs and showers, hand-held shower nozzles to help with bathing while sitting, fall prevention monitors, bedside fall mats, reachers, etc.
Wear appropriate shoes. To prevent falls, shoes need to have nonskid soles, they should be sturdy, flat and properly fitted (not too big, tight, or loose). High heels, slippers, slides, slick soles, ill-fitting shoes and stocking feet can increase the risk for falling.
Learn how to use mobility equipment properly. While assistive devices can help prevent falls, they can also contribute to falls when not used properly. Be sure to work with physical therapists to assess the proper fit and use of mobility aides.
Falls are common among older adults, but they are also preventable. Reducing fall risk factors reduces the risk of falling.
Alethea Bruzek is Boyle County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences. Email her at email@example.com.