Guarding Against Falls
Five simple steps you can take to reduce risk.
You stumble getting out of the shower. Catch your foot on a throw rug. Or lose your balance climbing the stairs. Falling down at home happens more often than you may think.
Each year, one in three Americans ages 65 and older suffers a fall. As a result, nearly two million seniors end up in a hospital emergency room with bone fractures or serious head injuries.
While taking a tumble isn’t a natural consequence of growing older, many times age-related issues are to blame.
Declining vision, faulty balancing mechanisms within the ear and other problems with spatial orientation can make you unsteady on your feet. Weakened muscles, side effects from medication, and unsafe conditions at home are other triggers.
The good news? You can reduce your risk of falling with some simple steps:
- Stay active: In doing so, you’ll help maintain the flexibility, strength and balance you need to guard against falls.
- Fall-proof your home: Minimize or eliminate throw rugs, electrical cords and other underfoot clutter that can trip you up. Also, install brighter lighting and add grab bars to bathrooms.
- Dress safely: Wear shoes with sturdy, non-slip soles, and avoid walking in slippery socks or loose-fitting slippers.
- Take medications as directed: Adhering to the correct dose will help you avoid becoming light-headed. Of course, if you become dizzy anyway, talk to your doctor. A change in dosage or drug may be advisable.
- Have your eyes checked: At least once a year, get a check-up to ensure your eyewear prescription is adequate and no other conditions are impairing your ability to see clearly.
“If you happen to fall, try to land on your backside and not your side,” recommends Donna L. Henshue, RN, for Morningstar Senior Living’s Life Care Community, Moravian Hall Square in Nazareth, PA. “When you’re ready to rise, roll up on your side, crawl to the nearest chair, and stand up slowly using it for support. Of course, if you need help, use an emergency pull, telephone or life alert.”
“Falls should be evaluated by a healthcare professional,” adds Henshue. “Especially if you’ve hit your head and may be in danger of a brain injury.”