Almost 3 million people visit the emergency room every year for a fall-related injury according to the National Council on Aging. Many of those falls lead to hospitalization and some, even to death.
Falls don’t have to be an inevitable side effect of aging though. With the right knowledge, proactive steps, supportive care network, and commitment to health and safety, older adults can age in place safely and with more independence and confidence than ever before. Don’t miss these 10 essential steps to preventing falls in your home:
Don’t miss these 10 essential steps to preventing falls in your home:
The idea of routine physical fitness may seem exhausting or overwhelming to some seniors, but 30 minutes of exercise a day has been shown to lower risks of developing Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and the list goes on. When it comes to preventing falls,
When it comes to preventing falls, an exercise which strengthens muscles and bones as well as hones coordination and flexibility are crucial to promoting strong, stable rising, sitting, standing, and walking. Experts recommend older adults try low-impact exercises like yoga, bicycling, rowing, swimming, tennis, hiking, and dancing.
2. Get Your Eyes Checked
This step often falls under the radar when it comes to fall prevention, but is so critical. Oftentimes, even slight vision problems like blurry vision or inability to see peripheral images can affect depth perception and the visual cues sent to the brain which helps feed the sense of balance. This can not only cause falls but dangerously affect everyday tasks like driving and cooking.
3. Use Mobility Aids
For older adults experiencing trouble standing or walking for extended periods of time or who have already had multiple falls, a mobility aid may just be the supportive device they need to stay on their feet, literally.
Mobility aids like canes, walkers, knee scooters, and wheelchairs can provide much-needed stability and support for older adults who want to stay active but in a safe way.
4. Monitor Medicine Side Effects
Did you know over 90% of seniors over 65 reports having at least one chronic disease? When it comes to aging, the name of the game is so frequently taking medicine upon medicine to treat some ailments which could actually be aided largely by diet and lifestyle modifications.
If a medicine you are on has side effects of dizziness, loss of balance, or confusion, this may put you at higher risk for experiencing falls.
5. Eat a Healthy Diet
While a balanced, healthy diet plays an important role in preventing heart disease, cognitive decline, and other ailments, it is also important to bone health and weight management.
A diet rich in calcium and Vitamin D can help fight osteoporosis and keep bones strong which prevents feelings of leg weakness that can cause falls. Managing a healthy weight with the balanced diet can also prevent inactivity, balance problems, and circulation issues which in conjunction may lead to falls.
6. Clear Clutter
Seasonal home cleaning takes on a new meaning when it comes to preventing falls in seniors. Clutter, from small items on the floor to larger pieces of furniture, which are unused and simply ‘in the way’, can create trip hazards and mobility obstacles when it comes to getting around your own home safely.
Clearing pathways of cords and other items, nailing down curled up corners of rugs and mats, as well as making sure walking surfaces aren’t slick or slippery can go a long way to fall-proofing your environment.
7. Wear Proper Shoes
When it comes to strong, stable movements, few things reinforce your mobility like proper fitting shoes. For seniors, shoes play an exceptionally important role in mobility and fall prevention.
Avoid wearing shoes that are too snug or too loose as well as heels greater than one inch. Sneakers with increased traction on the soles can also be dangerous and get stuck or caught on certain surfaces. Older adults should wear comfortable shoes with good ankle support that have smooth bottoms.
8. Improve Lighting
Poorly lit hallways or even dim bulbs in the bathroom can result in poor visibility that makes it more likely for a senior to trip and fall over something or to miss a step and fall and hurt themselves.
Not only does accessible lighting, which is easy to turn on and off when you enter and exit a room, help seniors navigate their home environments more securely, but reflective guide tape can help as well.
Placing strips of guide tape around trickier environments like stairways or door entryways can give seniors that extra cue and visibility they need to proceed with caution.
9. Make Everyday Tasks Easier
Even the most basic tools can simplify everyday tasks which may help prevent falls. For example, a reacher grabber tool can assist a senior with picking an item up off the ground instead of having to bend or stoop over and potentially lose their balance.
Dressing aids like a shoe horn or button hook can simplify the process of getting dressed in the morning, and give seniors more self-reliance and confidence when starting their day.
10. Install Grab Bars
Particular concerns about falling, perhaps following a hip replacement, can be quelled in part by installing useful grab bars and rails around walkways and environments which require more agile movement.
A hand railing at a stairway, a grab bar in the shower, and even handles on a raised toilet seat can support a senior’s ability to sit down, stand up, and walk without getting weak or becoming imbalanced.
Not only do falls impact a senior’s health and mobility, but they can lead to stressful financial burdens and social isolation. When it comes to aging, few things are more important than taking vital steps to preventing falls, especially in the home. Small, proactive actions now can lead to big health and safety wins later.
When it comes to aging, few things are more important than taking vital steps to preventing falls, especially in the home. Small, proactive actions now can lead to big health and safety wins later.