Health & Wellness

5 Tips that May Help You Avoid a Fall

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Falls are serious business.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2014, one in four older adults reported a fall and more than 27,000 died as a result of a fall.1  Here are some simple steps you can take that may help prevent falls and decrease falls risks.

Make sure paths in and around your home are in good shape and well lit. Do a quick spin around the house and take inventory: Are rugs all lying flat (and slip-proof)? Are the stairs in good repair? Are there items blocking a path that can be moved? Is furniture moved out of walkways? Are sidewalks clear? Are there bath mats and grab bars in the bathroom? Are cords placed in inconspicuous spots? Are lightbulbs bright and in good working order? If something looks potentially hazardous to you or a visitor to your house, now is the time to fix it. As you walk around, use this Fall Prevention checklist from the CDC as a guide. 

Get your workout in. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise that bolsters strength, balance, coordination and flexibility may help prevent falls.2 Walking, water aerobics, tai chi, yoga, swimming and other workouts may actually help steady you—while also improving your physical condition and maybe even your mood. Of course, always talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise program.

Be aware but not too wary. Consider things that have caused you to stumble in the past: uncomfortable shoes or slippers, loose clothing that could trip you, scurrying pets, rugs, spilled items, etc., and do your best to mitigate those risks. At the same time, try not to let a fear of falling limit you. If you feel as though you’re changing your regular routine because of your worries, share that concern with your family or doctor, and they may be able to help. 

Talk to your health care professionals about fall prevention and get regular checkups. If you’re concerned about falling, talk to your doctor. He or she can help assess your risks and give you advice on how you can minimize your fall potential. Changes in vision and hearing may also make you more prone to falls, as can certain medications and diseases. Be sure and have your hearing and vision checked regularly, and talk to your pharmacist about medication side effects that could make you dizzy. Keep your health team in the loop on any changes, and be sure to bring up your own concerns at your next appointment.   

Take care of yourself. As you age, it’s vital that you’re playing your best game. That means eating a well-balanced diet, getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, exercising regularly, keeping an active mind and social life and finding ways to relieve stress. That way, if you do happen to fall, you may be in better physical and mental condition to do what it takes to get back on your feet again.

To help decrease falls, the CDC launched an initiative called STEADI (Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths & Injuries), which seeks to educate older adults and health care providers on how to prevent falls. To learn more, visit the STEADI page. The National Council on Aging has created a video with tips to prevent falls, which you can view here.

References:

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, STEADI - Older Adult Fall Prevention
  2. Mayo Clinic, Fall prevention: Simple tips to prevent falls

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