Tricks to Avoid Tumbles
According to the National Council on Aging, one in four older adults fall each year. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for people older than 65. Nonfatal injuries can include broken bones and head wounds. Falls can be caused by many risk factors or a combination of risk factors including:
- Lower body weakness
- Poor vision
- Balance, coordination and flexibility problems
- Prescription or over-the-counter medications that can cause dizziness or dehydration
- Foot pain or improper footwear
- Hazardous or dangerous home conditions involving steps, rugs, clutter, wet or slippery surfaces, and inadequate lighting
Falls are usually related to everyday activities such as walking on stairs, going to the bathroom or working in the kitchen. What can you do to help you or your loved one reduce the risk of a fall? Start with these suggestions:
- Begin the discussion. Many older adults know their risk for falling but believe it won’t happen to them or they won’t get hurt. Start talking about falling, dizziness and balance with a health care provider who can evaluate risk, and can suggest helpful solutions, services or programs.
- Review medications that can cause sleepiness or dizziness
- Have a comprehensive, thorough eye and vision check-up
- Balance, strength and gait can be improved with exercise. Talk with a doctor about exercises to improve agility and coordination. There are activities that can help build bone strength and help prevent osteoporosis, a thinning and weakening of bones. Physical therapy may be an option to improve strength and balance, and lessen the risk of a fall.
- Do a safety assessment and walk through all parts of the house – bedroom, living areas, kitchen, stairs and bathroom. Don’t forget outside areas and walkways. Occupational therapists are trained in this kind of assessment and can help suggest home modifications. Modifications may include grab bars in the bathroom, railings on both sides of the stairs, and brighter lights in darker areas.
Stay safe. Falls can be life altering and can rob a person of their independence. With some precautions and planning, falls can be avoided. BayCare HomeCare provides a full range of in-home patient care services and products that can help with fall prevention.