Fall Prevention: Steps to Make Falls Less Likely
Just because we age, that doesn’t mean we have to fall. Take the proper steps to protect yourself so that you don’t become a statistic.
- Get some exercise: Lack of exercise can lead to weak legs, which increases the chance of falling. Exercise programs can increase strength and improve balance, making falls less likely.
- Be mindful of medications: Some medications—or combinations of medications—can have side effects like dizziness or drowsiness. Also, certain medications, such as blood thinners, can make the consequences of a fall much more serious.
- Keep your vision sharp: Poor vision can make it harder to get around safely. Have your eyes checked every year, and wear your glasses or contacts as prescribed.
- Eliminate or reduce hazards at home: About half of all falls happen at home. Be alert to poor lighting, and identify fall hazards such as clutter and loose rugs or carpeting.
Take Care of Yourself
- Keep your bones strong. Make sure you are getting enough vitamin D and calcium.
- Take care of your feet. If you have calluses, corns or sores that are not healing, make sure to let your doctor know. And wear sensible shoes that fit properly.
- Take your time. If you tend to feel lightheaded when you stand up, stand still for a few seconds before you try to move.
- If you are dizzy and lose your balance, let your doctor know. You may have a health problem that needs treatment. Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water, especially when the temperature outside is hot.
- If you live alone, consider wearing an alert device that will bring help in case you fall. Or keep your phone with you from room to room so you can call for help if needed.
- Be safe. Consider installing grab bars and non-slip grips in your tub or shower. If you have stairs, make sure the hand rail is secure.
A Few Facts
- One-third of seniors (age 65 and over) have a fall every year; half of them have more than one fall.
- Falls are the most common cause of injury among seniors.
- Seniors are 9 times more likely to be hurt in a fall than someone under age 65.
- Nearly 2/3 of injury-related hospitalizations for seniors are the result of falls.
- Roughly half of all falls occur at home.
What Should I Do If I Fall?
- Do not stand up right away.
- Remain calm and still.
- Take a few deep breaths.
- If you are hurt or feel that you cannot or should not get up, call 911 for help.
- If you feel that you are not hurt, use a chair to steady yourself and rise up enough to sit on the chair and rest.
- Re-evaluate yourself. If you now feel that you are hurt, call 911 for help.
- If you are alone, stay where you are and try to get comfortable while you wait for help to arrive.