Falls put you at risk of serious injury. Prevent falls with these simple fall prevention measures, from reviewing your medications to hazard-proofing your home.
Fall prevention is an important topic to consider as you get older. Physical changes and health conditions — and sometimes the medications used to treat those conditions — make falls more likely as you age. In fact, falls are a leading cause of injury among older adults. Still, fear of falling doesn't need to rule your life. Instead, consider six simple fall prevention strategies.
Start by making an appointment with your health care provider. To assess your risk and discuss fall prevention strategies, your health care provider may want to talk about the following:
Your medications: Make a list of your prescription and nonprescription medications and supplements, or bring them with you to the appointment. Your health care provider can review your medications for side effects and interactions that may increase your risk of falling. To help with fall prevention, your health care provider may consider weaning you off medications that make you tired or affect your thinking, such as sedatives, antihistamines and some types of antidepressants.
History of falls Provide details of when, how, and any treatment which was needed.
Health history Review what conditions would put you at risk for falling.
Physical activity Living an active lifestyle can go a long way toward fall prevention. With your health care provider's ok, consider activities such as walking, water workouts or Tai chi — a gentle exercise that involves slow and graceful dance-like movements. These activities reduce the risk of falls by improving strength, balance, coordination and flexibility.
Fear of falling and avoidance Lack of activity due to fear can increase your risk to fall.
Consider changing your footwear as part of your fall prevention plan. High heels, floppy slippers and shoes with slick soles can make you slip, stumble and fall. So can walking in your stocking feet. Instead, wear properly fitting, sturdy, flat shoes with nonskid soles. Sensible shoes may also reduce joint pain.
Other adjustments you can make:
- Remove tripping hazards such as boxes, newspapers, electrical cords and phone cords from walkways.
- Move coffee tables, magazine racks and plant stands from high-traffic areas.
- Secure loose rugs with double-faced tape, tacks, or a slip-resistant backing, or remove loose rugs from your home.
- Repair loose, wooden floorboards and carpeting right away.
- Store clothing, dishes, food and other necessities within easy reach.
- Immediately clean spilled liquids, grease or food.
- Use nonslip mats in your bathtub or shower. Use a bath seat, which allows you to sit while showering.
- Keep your home brightly lit to avoid tripping on objects that are hard to see, by placing night lights in your bedroom, bathroom and hallways.
- Place a lamp within reach of your bed in case you need to get up in the middle of the night.
- Make clear paths to light switches that aren't near room entrances. Consider trading traditional switches for glow-in-the-dark or illuminated switches.
- Turn on the lights before going up or down stairs.
- Store flashlights in easy-to-find places in case of power outage.
Your health care provider might recommend using a cane or walker to keep you steady. Other assistive devices which may be helpful include:
- Handrails for both sides of stairways
- Nonslip treads for bare-wood steps
- A raised toilet seat or one with armrests
- Grab bars for the shower or tub
- Hand held shower nozzle
Ask your physician for a referral for Physical Therapy/Occupational therapist to help you prevent falls and improve your mobility if needed.
Here is to your good health!