As you get older, any type of fall can land you in the doctor’s office or even the hospital. That is why states have adopted the first day of fall — Sept. 22nd — as Fall Prevention Awareness Day. For aging adults, the best-case scenario is to avoid a fall altogether and to do that, they need to have some fall prevention tips or best practices. Listed below is some great advice from leading experts on preventing falls.
- Keep walkways clear in your home — remove boxes, secure area rugs with double-sided tape, and make sure any cords are wrapped neatly or used in a different location.
- Store clothing, dishes, food items, and any other daily necessities within easy reach. Before getting on a ladder, consider asking a younger family member to get up on a ladder, even a step stool.
- Make sure your shower is safe. Add railings, non-slip mats, and easy to reach towel hooks to your bathroom. Make sure when you step out of the shower or bath, the carpet is secure, or the floor is not slippery when wet.
- Consider opening up your home by having less furniture. Removing bulky coffee tables or side tables can create clearer areas to move throughout your home.
- Any spaces you find difficult to navigate, install support systems: handles next to your toilet, handrails on both sides of your stairs, and a seat with a handheld showerhead for your bathtub/shower.
- Consider having a cane or walker within your home in case you need it immediately.
- If you are concerned about a fall, consider a medical alert system. In the unfortunate case that you do fall, you can get help quickly through this type of technology.
Stay Active and Healthy
- Staying physically active is one of the best ways to prevent falls. Make sure to consult your doctor, but consider activities like walking, water workouts, or other gentle exercises that improve your balance, coordination, strength, and even flexibility.
- If you are concerned to try out a physical activity, talk with your doctor. Many times an occupational therapist can help design an exercise program that is safe for you.
- Really consider your footwear — both for physical activity as well as daily wear. Walking in socks is an easy way to slip on hardwoods, while a solid shoe that is well-fitted with non-skid soles will give you greater stability anytime you are moving around.
- Keep a regular sleep schedule in order to get regular, quality sleep. This can keep you alert and aware of your surroundings throughout the day.
- Consider avoiding alcohol as it can cause drowsiness and a lowered ability to control muscle movement.
- Work towards maintaining a healthy weight. This puts less stress on your muscles, tendons, and bones and gives you a greater ability to stay agile and mobile.
- Consistently check with your doctor about your hearing. A minor hearing loss actually triples your risk for a fall.
Make Sure You Can See Environments Clearly
- Make sure to keep up with routine eye exams. As you age, less light reaches the retina, which makes tripping hazards harder to see.
- If you currently wear bifocal or progressive lenses, consider getting a pair of glasses with only your distance prescription for outdoor activities. Sometimes bifocals and progressive lenses can make things seem farther away or close than they really are.
- Make sure you have nightlights throughout your home — bathrooms, hallways, bedrooms, kitchen, and living rooms.
- Have a light you can reach from your bed in the middle of the night — this could be a lamp or a flashlight.
- Get in the habit of turning on the lights before going up or down any stairs.
- Talk with your doctor to make sure that your medication (over-the-counter or prescription) does not interact with your vision. Some medications are known to cause blurred vision, dizziness, or confusion.
At Elder Care Alliance, we work hard to keep our community members as safe and healthy as possible. We incorporate healthy exercise (including Thai chi and yoga), routine doctor’s visits, and a safe environment for seniors to live as independently as possible in our communities. Elder Care Alliance’s California assisted living communities provide caring support and wellness services, and short-term stays may be available. Contact us today to learn more about Fall Prevention Awareness Day, or to get the assistance you and your loved one need.