Preventing Falls Among Seniors
Published: Sunday, October 26, 2008
Falls are the leading cause of injuries to older people in the United States. Each year, more than 11 million senior citizens fall—that’s one of every three people over 65. As the body ages, changes in your eyesight, hearing, coordination, balance and physical strength can increase your chances of falling. In addition, as you age, your bones will become more brittle, making injuries more serious, and healing will be slower if you do fall. Falls, slips and trips are caused by a variety of things. There are changes, including home modifications, that seniors and caregivers can do to help prevent falls.
- Get an annual physical and eye examination.
- Maintain a healthy diet, adequate in dietary calcium and vitamin D.
- Stay active and get regular exercise. Always warm up, stretch and strengthen bones with weight-bearing activity.
- Tie your shoe laces. Don’t walk in your stocking feet.
- Replace slippers that have stretched out of shape and are too loose.
- Avoid excessive alcohol intake.
- Check with your doctor(s) about the side effects of your medicines and over-the-counter drugs. Fatigue or confusion increases your risk of falling.
Tips to Prevent Falls Tripping
- Take a fresh look at your home environment, and then take a few simple steps to prevent falls. For example, remove clutter you can trip over from stairs and places where you walk, particularly high traffic areas. This may include items such as papers, books, clothes and shoes.
- Remove small throw rugs or use double-sided tape to secure them.
- Ensure your home has sturdy handrails and adequate lighting on all stair cases.
- Keep items used most often in cabinets you can reach without a stool.
- Wear shoes that give good support and have non-slip soles.
- Improve lighting in your home.
In the Bathroom
- Install grab bars next to your toilet and in the tub or shower.
- Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors.
- Make sure you have appropriate lighting in each room and hallway, including night lights if you need to move about at night.
- Keep floor surfaces clean—wipe up spills and pick up dropped items immediately.
- Make sure a phone is located conveniently at your bedside.
- Make sure your bed is a regular bed height. Too high or too low could cause a fall.
There are many things you can do to help prevent falls as you age. The care you take now, could prevent a fall later. Take falls seriously, and call 9-1-1 if there is an emergency.
For help finding a doctor, call 1.877.UT.CARES (1.877.882.2737).
Always check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program, any medication side effects or about modifications you can make to prevent falls.
“Preventing Falls: Keeping Seniors Living Independently.” American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2007.
“Preventing Falls Among Seniors.” National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2002.
“Aging in Place Home Remodeling Ideas.” Ageinplace.com, 2008.