A fall can happen anywhere and at any time, but sadly, according to the CDC an older adult dies every twenty minutes from a fall, and they mostly happen in the home. Since September 22 – 28 is Fall Prevention Awareness Week, it’s the perfect time to inventory your own home and those of loved ones. Preventing falls in the fall and every other season just takes some thoughtful evaluation and a few adjustments.
Three million seniors over age 65 go to the emergency room each year due to a fall, and although one in four seniors experience a fall each year, only half tell their doctor. Aging makes us more likely to fall due to balance issues, changes in vision, and loss of a leg and joint strength.
Know Your Risks For Falling
It’s just a fact that older adults have a higher risk of falling. Do you need to use the arms of a chair to get up? If so, you are likely at risk for falling. You are at a higher risk of falling if you live alone, or If you spend a lot of time sitting with little to no exercise.
If you have fallen before, it makes you more likely to fall again. If you have weakness in your muscles, legs, and joints, you are at risk for falls. Although it’s true that many seniors have similar complaints, you need not accept the inevitability of a fall.
Stand Up To Falls
Many doctors believe the fear of falling can precipitate a fall, but you can make some proactive changes and avoid the possibility of falling. Take charge and stand up to falls.
- Get an annual eye exam. Check that your prescription is correct and you have the right glasses for all activities and distances. Peripheral vision becomes a problem as we get older, making it difficult to see things around us and below us, like correctly judging the height of a curb.
- Start moving. Lack of physical activity leads to loss of muscle strength, and balance, and increases the risk of falling. Ask one of our orthopedic specialists to recommend a light exercise program to develop your core and leg strength.
- Make your home safer. Clean up all the clutter that finds its way into your life. Remove any impediment that might cause a fall, and move furniture to give a clear pathway from room to room. Install proper lighting in your home, both inside and out. Keep the outside entrance free of ice and snow, and be sure all railings are secure. Pay special attention to the bathroom and add guard rails for the tub.
- Be practical. If you have a cane, use it. When walking, pay attention and avoid hills, uneven surfaces, and cracked sidewalks. Pause and move carefully when changing position. Take a second when going from lying down in bed, to sitting up, to standing. Do the same when getting up from a chair.
- Take your own risk assessment here.
It’s important to stay safe this fall, and always. Ask your doctor about your medications and whether they might contribute to a fall, and make sure to follow these tips to help stay safe!