7 Simple Ways to Prevent Dangerous Falls
Feb 24, 2017
Falls are the leading cause of injury for those 65 and older. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that each year millions of older adults fall, and more than 700,000 of those are hospitalized with serious medical problems as a result. To make it worse, once someone has fallen, the chance of it happening again doubles.
The good news? There are some simple and effective measures you can take to help prevent falls and the inevitable health problems that stem from them. The bottom line is this--many falls can be prevented.
Here are seven relatively simple things you can do to ensure that you reduce your chance of falling:
1) Keep moving
Staying fit by exercising regularly can go a long way toward reducing the risk of falls by improving strength, balance, coordination and flexibility.
Exercises such as walking, water workouts or the exercise classes offered at Tapestry can be very beneficial for this. Take a look at the monthly Tapestry schedule and find an exercise class like yoga, Wii games or tai chi.
Tai chi, in particular, has been proven to be especially effective in helping people prevent falls. In fact, according to an article in Harvard Health Publications from Harvard Medical School, studies have shown tai chi to reduce falls in older adults by up to 45 per cent!
2) Clean up clutter and remove home hazards
One-third of all falls involves hazards at home. Probably nothing prevents falls more than keeping your home clean and uncluttered.
* Get rid of any clutter on the floor and remove old stacks of newspapers or magazines. Remove any furniture that is not needed and arrange the remaining furniture so that you have plenty of room to walk freely.
* Remove any electrical cords, phone cords, or any other type of cord from trailing across the floor.
* Remove loose throw rugs. If you must keep one, make sure to secure it with double-sided tape to the floor. But it's best to not even use them--loose rungs are a common cause of falls.
* Store clothing, food items, dishes and other everyday items within easy reach. If you have something you don't use often that's out-of-reach, use a grasping tool to get it rather than a chair or step stool.
* Use nonslip mats on your shower floor. If you need, use a bath seat which allows you to sit while showering.
* Immediately wipe up any spilled liquids on the floor.
3) The tried-and-true sensible shoes advice
No, they aren't as sexy as high heels, but neither is a serious injury! Wear sturdy and comfortable shoes with nonskid soles whenever you can. While wearing socks without shoes are comfortable for many of us, wearing only socks can cause slips.
Just wearing the right shoes can prevent a lot of falls.
4) Light it up
Make sure your home is well-lit.
* Put nightlights in your bedroom, your bathroom, the kitchen, and the hallways.
* Place a lamp on a table by your bed, so you can turn on the light before getting up at night.
* Use light bulbs that have the highest wattage recommended for each fixture.
* Store flashlights in easy to find locations (like near your bed) in case the electricity goes out.
5) Talk to your doctor
Make an appointment with your doctor. Take your prescriptions and over-the-counter medications with you, or take a detailed list of everything you are taking. Some prescription drugs (such as sedatives, anti-depressants, and anti-psychotic drugs) plus taking multiple medications can increase your risk of falls. Have your doctor review your medications and see what she determines about the side effects and interactions of what you are taking.
6) Move more carefully
Many falls can be attributed to nothing more than moving too quickly. Pause for just a moment when you move from sitting to standing and before starting to use the stairs. This preventative measure is really just as simple as taking your time.
7) Don't fight Mother Nature
Try to eliminate going out in the ice and snow. Most things can wait until conditions improve. If you absolutely must go out, see if someone can spread salt or sand on the pathways, wear boots with good traction, and ask a friend, neighbor, or family member to go with you. But really, just stay in if at all possible!
Preventing falls will improve your well-being
As you can see, these seven suggestions we've listed aren't hard to implement! We want to strongly encourage you to take these steps to secure your longevity and health. Fall prevention means injury prevention, and that's something critically important to your long-term well-being.