The statistics don’t lie: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year, more than 2.8 million older people are treated in the emergency room for injuries due to a fall. This means one out of three adults age 65 and older fall each year, and falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in these individuals. Plus, when seniors fall once, they are more likely to suffer a subsequent fall. In fact, the chance of a repeat fall can double.
A fall can lead to a variety of health issues like broken hips, broken bones, or head injuries. While there are a variety of reasons seniors fall, such as side effects from medications, weakened bones and muscles, trouble seeing, incorrect footwear, or home hazards, knowing these risk factors can help keep you safer.
Accidents can occur at any time, but by taking a few extra precautions you can increase your chances of preventing a fall. A few senior fall prevention tips that can help keep you safer and living as healthy and as independent as possible include:
Safeguarding your home. Go through your home and take note of unsafe situations. For example, hallways and stairs should be clear of clutter and debris, and furniture should be arranged in a way that is easy to navigate. Get rid of throw rugs or low furniture like coffee tables or ottomans. If needed, install sturdy railings or grab bars that provide something extra to hold on to. Also, make sure all living spaces are well-lit, utilizing night lights in the bathrooms and hallways as necessary.
Living a healthy lifestyle. Eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of calcium and vitamin D for strong bones, and make sure to drink plenty of water. Plus, get 30 minutes of exercise daily to help improve muscle strength, flexibility, balance and coordination.
Knowing your medication side effects. Seniors are usually on a variety of medications, both prescription and over-the-counter. Some of these medications may cause dizziness or weakness, especially when mixed together. Arm yourself with a list of medications to discuss with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure they are all being taken correctly, and they don’t have any negative interactions that could cause a fall.
Wearing the proper footwear. While they’re comfortable, fuzzy slippers or socks should not be worn around the house, especially if you have wooden or tiled floors. Make sure all your footwear has non-skid soles, provide good support, and fit your feet correctly.
Keeping your annual doctor appointments. Your eyesight and hearing can also play a role in how easily a fall can occur, so keeping your yearly appointments not only to your primary care physician, but also getting your vision and hearing checked on an annual basis is critical. Or, if you’re starting to notice any changes to your vision or hearing, make an appointment sooner rather than later.
Having an emergency plan in place. Seniors who live independently should have a plan ready in case of an emergency. Keep a cordless phone or cell phone nearby or even on your person at all times. Or, consider investing in an emergency device that can be worn around the neck. Have a loved one check in daily, so someone knows to be alarmed if they cannot get in touch with you.
Maintain the highest level of wellness possible at the Copeland Clinic at Advent Christian Village. Our professional staff will customize a fitness plan to enhance your muscle strength, balance and mobility — and keep you safer on your feet. Contact us to schedule a visit or to request more information.