How To Prevent: “Help I’ve Fallen…”
We’ve all had falls as kids or come close to falling. It’s a terrible feeling. For an older person a fall can be life changing. As we age the risk of serious injuries or death from a fall increase.
More than one in three people ages 65 years or older falls each year.
The good news is that you can take steps now to prevent falling.
- Ask your health care provider for a falls risk assessment
“Well, I was standing on a ladder reaching…”
- Tell your provider about any falls you have had or your fear of falling.
- Decreased vision, inner ear disturbance, weakness and or loss of feeling in your legs or feet or arthritis could affect balance, so your provider may refer you for evaluations.
- Ask your provider to review your medications that you are taking that may increase your risk of falling. If a drug makes you dizzy or sleepy, tell your provider.
- You may be referred to a physical therapist who will develop an exercise program to improve your balance.
“But don't let a fear of falling keep you from being active. Overcoming this fear can help you stay active, maintain your physical health, and prevent future falls. " - National Institute of Aging
- A large and comprehensive study found that exercise is the most effective strategy for decreasing the number of falls in adults aged 65 and older.
- Your health care provider can suggest appropriate activities.
- The right exercise can help anyone improve their balance, flexibility and strength. Possible activities may include walking, using a recumbent bike, and water aerobics.
- Tai Chi and yoga, including chair yoga are excellent at decreasing the risk of falling. They both improve flexibility, range of movement, strength and balance. Incorporating these components appears to be the best strategy for improving balance
- Invest in making your home fall proof
An investment in making your home safe is an investment in your independence and well-being.
- Install good lighting. Trips and falls are more likely in dim lighting. Place nightlights in your bedroom and bathroom.
- Place commonly used items in easy-to -reach cabinets. Use a sturdy step stool, not a chair to reach for things up high.
- Don’t climb on step ladders. Get help with chores that call for climbing.
- If you spill something, mop it immediately.
- Use nonslip mats in tubs and showers.
- Install grab bars in the bathroom.
- Remove clutter and throw rugs.
- Secure rugs with slip resistant backing.
- Close the dishwasher when you have finished loading the dishes.
- A few more preventive steps
- Wear shoes with non-skid soles. Flip-flops, slippers with smooth soles and high heels can make you stumble and fall. Avoid walking in your socks. If you insist on wearing socks, get the no slip socks with grips.
- Limit your intake of alcohol. Even small amounts can affect your balance. Research shows the rate of hip fractures increase with alcohol use.
- Don’t rush. Stand up slowly. Getting up too quickly can cause your blood pressure to drop and make you unsteady.
- Dehydration can lead to dizziness. As you age your sense of thirst diminishes. You might not realize that you are thirsty. Make sure your fluid intake is adequate.
- Use assistive technology and devices
- Your health care provider may recommend that you use a cane or walker so that you don’t fall. Learn to use it correctly-and then use it all the time. A physical therapist or occupational therapist can assist you in using these devices safely.
- Carry your phone with you in your home or when you go out. This will allow you to call for assistance if you need it.
- Consider getting a device that can call for help at the touch of a button or monitor you if you fall.
You can minimize your risk of falling by implementing these steps. Start today. Make a list of things you can do reduce your risk of falling!
Also, try out our yoga video here!