Comprehensive Fall Prevention Strategies for Seniors
Did you know that falls are the leading cause of injuries in seniors? According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 3 million Americans aged 65 and older fall each year. Of those falls, more than 800,000 seniors become hospitalized for serious injuries such as concussions and broken bones. And those numbers are predicted to be even greater as not all seniors report falls to their doctors.
Even though falls are common, they don’t have to be an inevitable part of aging. With the proper precautions in place and a toolkit of strategies to prevent falling, it’s possible to live a fall-free life.
Strategies for Preventing Falls
Whether you’re at home or maneuvering through your community, you can incorporate these comprehensive strategies into your life to minimize your chances of falling.
- Talk to your doctor to understand your risk factors. The first step in limiting your chances of falling is to gain an understanding of risk factors in your health that may cause you to fall. Talk to your doctor about the medications you’re taking and if any of them include side effects such as dizziness and disorientation. It’s also important to have an open conversation with your doctor about current health conditions to determine if your health puts you at a higher risk of falling.
- Maintain strong physical health. Keeping active improves balance, strength and flexibility which reduces your chances of falling. You can sign up for a local Tai chi or yoga course, take swim lessons at a nearby community center or try at-home stretches to maintain strong physical wellness. Make sure to consult your doctor before starting any new physical activity.
- Invest in sturdy shoes and walking devices. Wearing properly fitted shoes with secure backing around the heel can greatly reduce your chances of falling when walking. Even when in the house, avoid slippers as they don’t offer support and can easily move around your foot, causing you to trip and fall. When venturing outside of the home, consider using a cane or walker to keep stable when walking.
- Keep your home free of clutter. According to a report published by the World Health Organization, 44% of falls happen inside the home, most frequently in the bedroom, kitchen and dining room. Make sure all walkways in your home are clear, especially around corners. In addition to keeping the floor clean, also make sure to have adequate lighting throughout the house to make it easier to see.
- Stay up-to-date on eye exams. One of the biggest reasons anyone falls is because they trip over or run into something they didn’t see. Maintaining proper eye health ensures your vision is strong enough to identify possible hazards as you walk. It’s also important to keep prescription eyeglasses updated as well with yearly eye exams, even if you don’t feel like you need new glasses.
- Invest in a voice-activated calling device. Voice-activated devices, such as a Google Home, allow you to do various tasks, such as turning on lights, by simply speaking. These devices are also great in case of a fall. With a voice-activated home system, you’ll be able to call for help instead of trying to reach a phone if you’ve injured yourself.
What to Do if You Fall
While it is possible to live a fall-free life, accidents happen and it’s important to be prepared if you do fall.
- Stay calm. If you do fall, the most important thing to do is stay calm.
- Assess your body. Check-in with your body and try to notice if there’s any pain or discomfort. If you think you’re able to get up, move slowly to a sitting position before standing. If you’re unable to move and you’re outside, make as much noise as possible to attract help. If you’re in your home and don’t have a voice-activated home system to call for help, slide to the nearest phone and contact 911 right away.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Some injuries may not be prevalent at first, so it’s important to get a medical examination to make sure you don’t have any broken bones or severe bruising. Leaving injuries untreated can lead to more severe medical conditions.
How Visiting Angels Can Help
At Visiting Angels Kilmarnock, we want to help seniors maintain their independence while staying safe in their homes. If you or a loved one needs assistance in putting together a fall prevention strategy, we are here to help. We provide a number of services including helping seniors move about their home and decluttering living spaces to decrease the risk of falling.
Visiting Angels currently serves the Kilmarnock, White Stone, Heathsville, Saluda, Urbanna, Tappahannock, Gloucester and the surrounding Virginia areas. If you’re interested in learning how Visiting Angels caregivers can be a part of your fall prevention strategy, stop by our Kilmarnock office, or give us a call at 804-435-2229.