As you get older, your risk for falling—and everything that comes along with falling, like injury, broken bones, and even disability—gets higher and higher. And, with September 22nd being Falls Prevention Awareness Day, we'd like to take a closer look at a few easy things you can do to decrease your risk of falling. Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans. One in four of all Americans aged 65 and older fall every year. Some of those falls might have been prevented by following these simple tips.
Tips for you to follow
- Use a cane or walker for help balancing and added stability, especially when walking outdoors or on uneven or slick surfaces.
- Keep indoor rooms free of clutter and mess to avoid stumbling over items. Be aware of the layout of rooms and location of objects in your home for easy navigation.
- Stay active by finding a balance or exercise program that works for you. Many community gyms and recreation centers offer classes specially catered to older adults to help built stability, strength, and flexibility, which can help condition your body to prevent or weather falls.
- Speak with your doctor about your concerns with falling. Doctors and pharmacists can help create a personalized plan to help you live a safer life, be it through lifestyle adjustments or reviewing medications.
- Get your vision and hearing checked at least once a year. Loss of hearing and vision is a leading cause of falls, as impaired senses lead to disorientation and dulled reflexes in responding to the world around you.
- Keep your home safe, supportive, and de-cluttered. One way you could do this is by installing railings or handholds in slippery or uneven places, like along the stairs or in bathrooms. You can also use non-slip bathmats, install plastic or carpet floor runners, and keep your home well-lit to help create a safer environment.
- Speak with family and loved ones. The support of those close to you is imperative in adjusting to a new lifestyle, and fall prevention is no exception. Reach out for help and support when you need it.
Tips for caregivers to follow
- Be a partner and a participant in falls prevention. It’s important to know that the older adults in your care know that you are an active participant as well as a close, supportive partner in their journey towards a safer, hopefully fall-free life. Don’t just cheer from the sidelines—make yourself available to help them in making lifestyle changes. You can even get involved in their activities yourself. You never know, you may find that you actually enjoy their silver sneakers tai chi class!
- Stay connected with those around you who might be able to help. Reach out to other caregivers or older adults in your life and community who have gone through similar experiences—they may have helpful tips and advice in the conversation of falls prevention.
- Follow these 3 steps to begin your falls prevention plan with your loved one:
- Determine if it’s time to talk about falls prevention by filling out this questionnaire (page 5).
- Reach out to others in talking about falls prevention. Here is a helpful template to follow (page 6).
- Develop a falls prevention action plan. This is a helpful resource to follow in developing your personalized plan (pages 7-9).
This infographic may be helpful in getting a quick, at-a-glance view of the issue of falling as well as falls prevention.
- Prevent Falls and Fractures
- Preventing Falls: Tips for Older Adults and Caregivers
- Falls Prevention
- Falls Prevention Conversation Guide for Caregivers (this resource in particular is helpful for caregivers, as it has questionnaires, action plans, and many additional resources).