Health Info & Resources for Seniors
As we age, our risk of experiencing a serious fall increases. Each year, one in three adults suffer a fall, many of which result in serious injury, hospitalization, nursing home admission, or even death. Falls can happen due to changes that occur with normal aging such as stiff joints, muscle weakness, and slower reaction times. Falls can also be caused by medical conditions and/or the use of certain medications. Additionally, a high number of falls are the result of dangers found within the home.
Fortunately, there are a variety of ways you can lower your risk of experiencing a serious fall. Two of the simplest, exercise and home safety, are highlighted below.
Exercise: As part of your falls prevention program, you should follow an exercise routine designed to increase your muscle strength (especially in your legs and feet) and to improve your skills in walking, balance, and coordination. Your healthcare provider can offer recommendations regarding exercise programs that meet your goals and needs.
Home Safety: Simple changes can cut your risk of falling in half. Many organizations offer free home safety checklists. A few of these suggestions are listed below.
- Keep cords away from areas where you walk.
- Remove or secure loose carpets/rugs by tacking them down. You may also consider using rugs with non-skid backing.
- Add lights in dimly lit areas and at the top and bottom of stairs.
- Use nightlights in bedrooms, hallways, and bathrooms.
- Maintain clear pathways between rooms.
- Make sure paths are not blocked by furniture or other clutter, especially near staircases.
- Put handrails on both sides of steps/stairs inside or outside of your home.
- Add grab bars near the toilet and bathtub and use no-slip decals or a rubber mat inside of the tub or shower.
- Wear firm shoes that are not slippery on the bottom.
- Do not walk around in ill-fitting slippers or socks.
Despite taking precautions, falls can still occur. If you do experience a fall, seek medical attention immediately. Be sure to tell your provider what might have caused the fall – whether you tripped over something, got dizzy and lost your balance, or felt your legs “go out” from under you. If you are treated by someone other than your primary care physician, be sure to make them aware that you had a fall. Additionally, bring all of your medications (including over the counter medications and supplements) to your next office visit so that your physician can review them and ensure they are not increasing your risk of falling.