According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), one in three adults age 65 and older falls each year. Falls can result in a wide range of injury from bruises and broken bones to head trauma and even death. Preventing falls is serious business.
Fortunately, it is possible to prevent many falls from happening. According to Larry Meigs, President and CEO of Visiting Angels, “Falls are preventable. At Visiting Angels, we help individuals and families assess their fall risk and eliminate the likelihood of falls.”
What are some things you can do to prevent falls?
Work closely with your doctor to review your medications and ensure there are no potential drug interactions. If you take multiple medications, there could be interactions that cause problems with dizziness or balance.
Exercise is a great way to prevent falls. Speak with your doctor about your concerns and get help determining the best exercise program for your situation. Walking, water aerobics and tai chi are great exercises to increase balance and coordination.
In addition to your regular physical checkups, don’t forget to have your eyes and ears checked. Vision and hearing problems can lead to increases in tripping and falling. Be sure you have the correct prescription and that you don’t have any hearing issues that are affecting your balance.
One of the best things you can do to prevent falls is to examine your home for tripping and falling hazards. Remove possible hazards including cords, boxes, shoes, and other items in walkways. Secure throw rugs or loose floorboards to prevent tripping. Move frequently used items in upper cabinets to lower shelves so you don’t have to climb on step stools. Keep things you need regular access to within easy reach.
Keep your home well lit. Shadows and dark rooms increase the likelihood of a fall. Add night lights to bedrooms, bathrooms or hallways you may travel at night. Add lamps to bed side tables and make sure you can easily reach any light switches without tripping.
Adding hand rails to both sides of the stairway is an easy and cost-effective way to prevent falls on stairs. Stairs are one of the most common places people fall in the home. Be sure your stairs are easy to traverse. Hand rails, non-slip treads and well secured carpet is a must.
If you are concerned about falling in the bathroom consider installing a variety of home safety equipment. Common bathroom safety equipment includes shower grab bars, raised toilet seats with arm rests, and shower or tub seats.
“It’s important to take a critical look around your home and eliminate any threat of falls,” says Meigs. “Removing clutter, adding lighting and following up with your doctor can go a long way towards ensuring your safety.”
At Visiting Angels, we provide all of our in-home care providers
with a checklist to use as a resource in fall prevention. Our fall prevention checklist
is online for anyone who is providing elderly care