Whether you are getting older yourself, have an elderly relative living with you, or just need to take stock of your surroundings, falling at home is common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year one in three adults over the age of 64 falls. What may be more surprising to you however, is that thousands of older folks die from fall injuries and about two million are treated for nonfatal fall injuries in emergency departments across the country.
The following are simple home changes along with exercises that can help to improve strength and balance and reduce the risk of falling.
Fall prevention tips: personal steps to take:
Enroll in an exercise program such as Tai Chi, or look into Matter of Balance (www.ncoa.org/improve-health/center-for-healthy-aging/a-matter-of-balance.html); this from the National Council on Aging.
● Visit the eye doctor and have your eyes checked at least once a year.
● At doctor visits and when in the pharmacy, take stock of those medications that cause dizziness or that make you drowsy.
● Don’t let fear of falling limit your activity; inactivity is a precursor to bad health and can create a downward cycle of worsening your muscle strength.
" ...every year one in three adults over the age of 64 falls."
Fall prevention tips: home remedies:
● Install grab bars in the bathroom, near the toilet and in-and-around the tub and shower.
● Pickup and apply appliques in the tub and shower area. A nonslip mat works but will be hard to keep clean.
● Stairways need adequate railings.
● Remove throw rugs or secure to the floor with specific tapes made for rugs.
● Add nightlights and improve the lighting in all areas that are dim or challenging.
● Drag the laundry basket down stairs rather than carrying it.
● Have a chair at hand near a bed or couch that is difficult to get out of.
● Provide your emergency medical technician with information of a previous fall.
Elizabeth Phelan, MD, a Univesity of Washington researcher, runs a fall prevention clinic and says that older adults who have already experienced a fall are at more risk for future falls.
Pick up The STEADI Tool Kit (Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths & Injuries) that gives health care providers the information and tools they need to assess and address their older patients’ fall risk. (http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/Falls/steadi/)