Falls are scary. They can result in broken bones and trips to the emergency room. In fact, falls are the leading cause of injury among older adults. Many older adults are afraid of falling. You don’t have to live your life in fear. You can remain active if you take the time to reduce your risk of falling.
“It’s important to remember falls are preventable,” says Larry Meigs, President and CEO of Visiting Angels. “With just a bit of education, a little effort around the house, and attention paid to our personal choices, we can prevent many falls from happening.”
What can you do to prevent falls in your own home or the home of a loved one?
Start by looking at threats around the house that could cause falls. Many homes have tripping hazards scattered about that are easily overlooked, but that are a real concern to the elderly. For example, throw rugs are a serious concern when looking for tripping hazards. All thrown rugs should be tacked down or removed to prevent falls. Clutter is another concern. If there are shoes, cords, boxes, or other items stacked in walkways, your loved one could trip and fall. Clean up the clutter and widen any walkways by removing unnecessary items.
Adding light to your home is an easy way to prevent falls. When rooms are dark or have shadows the risk of falling increases. Place night lights in bedrooms, bathrooms and hallways to prevent falls. Put lamps next to favorite chairs and beds. Remind your loved one to always turn on the light when entering a hallway or going up and down the stairs. Putting light timers on table and floor lamps in frequently used rooms can eliminate the need for your loved one to get up to turn on lights and prevent falls.
Once you’ve looked around the house and made some changes, it is time to review your own health. If you are taking multiple medications, please review them with your doctor. Medication interactions can cause dizziness and balance concerns. Be sure to take all your medications and over the counter vitamins, herbs and supplements to your doctor at least once a year to review for potential interactions.
Have you noticed a change in your hearing or eyesight? Changes in hearing or eyesight can lead to falls. Don’t neglect your hearing or eyesight. Have both checked regularly.
Shoes are essential to your safety. High heels, shoes with slippery soles, and some slippers can lead to falls. Be sure you are buying well-fitting shoes with non-slip soles. You should not choose shoes with extra thick soles as these can also lead to tripping.
Finally, if you’ve fallen two or more times in the past six months, please contact your doctor. It’s important to find out why you are falling. Don’t risk another fall and potential injury. Speak with your doctor right away.
“If you are concerned about falling or about a loved one falling, visit the Visiting Angels website for our fall prevention checklist. You will find detailed information on how to avoid falls,” says Larry Meigs, President and CEO of Visiting Angels.