25 Jan Preventing Falls in Older Adults
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention every 20 minutes an older adult dies from a fall in the United States. More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling. Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injury. We receive many phone calls to our office after a senior has fallen in the home and has sustained a serious injury. Older folks are often not able to recover completely after a fall, (especially if they sustained a head injury or hip fracture), and they are forced to move into some type of senior living or care facility. Falls are one of the main reason older adults are no longer able to remain independent and continue to live in their own homes.
Fall Prevention Tips
The good news is that there are a number of proven steps older adults can initiate to prevent a fall:
- Engage in exercise which increases leg strength and balance. Tai Chi is one of the most effective exercises for preventing falls.
- Clean up all clutter which can pose a trip hazard.
- Make a clear path in your home for highly used traffic areas.
- Wear non-slip shoes both inside and outside the home. Do not wear slippers.
- Avoid wearing loose clothing.
- If possible, live on one-level. If stairs are unavoidable, install handrails on both sides of a staircase which extend beyond the top and bottom of the stairs. Make sure the stairway is well lit.
- Never rush to answer the phone or door. Carry a portable phone or cell phone from room to room.
- Sit down when dressing or undressing clothes. Many people have the mistaken belief that changing clothes while standing up will help them practice their balance. Instead this often causes major falls.
- Don’t change clothes in the bathroom where there are a lot of corners and hard surfaces such as tile floors, tubs, sinks and toilets. It is safer to change in a carpeted area of your home, sitting down.
- Eliminate trip hazards in the home including small throw/area rugs; electrical cords or furniture that you constantly bump.
- Use proper lighting including brighter bulbs during the day and lights at night when waking up to use the bathroom.
- Install grab bars next to the tub, shower and toilet; use a non-slip mat in tub/shower
- Be careful around pets and their leashes
- Talk to you physician and ask for a fall risk assessment
- Review medications with physician or pharmacist to determine if they may be causing dizziness.
- Have an annual eye exam