Your 9-Step Guide to Prevent Falls

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Cropped shot of an affectionate senior couple sitting on the sofa at home

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of four adults aged 65 or older, fall each year. But less than half of those who fall talk to their healthcare provider about it. What’s more, among older adults, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries. Senior Care Plus, a Medicare Advantage Plan by Hometown Health, and Renown Health Nurse Educator, Nicholas Mannering, worked together to provide a list with simple tips to help you prevent falls.

Falls can become a major health concern as we age, but there are things you can do to help minimize the risk of falling. Here are 9 simple tips to help you prevent falls:

1. Exercise

Exercise strengthens both your muscles and bones and improves balance which is a key factor to preventing falls. The stronger you are, the less likely you are to fall. And, if you do fall, you are less likely to be injured.

RELATED: Get Moving: How to Exercise with Arthritis

2. Vision Check

Vision is an import part of fall prevention, have your eyes check by an eye doctor at least once a year. Update your vision prescription and replace your eyeglasses as needed.

3. Install Safety Equipment in Your Bathroom

Installing grab bars in your home bathroom provides a way for you to help yourself in and out of challenging situations. It also provides support if you suddenly feel week or unstable. Having a grab bar to lean on or hold onto when you feel yourself falling or slipping can help prevent falls. Rubber mats eliminate slick surfaces that increase your risk of falling.

4. Helpful Items in Your Bedroom

A light within reaching distance is an important item to have in your bedroom. One reason adults fall is because they wander through a dark room, often to get to the bathroom at night, and can’t see where they are walking. Having a light within reach that is quick and easy to turn on before walking around a room can make it safer and decrease your risk of falling.

Having a bedroom that is organized and furnished in a way that is easy to navigate is also important. If your bedroom is cluttered and hard to walk around without tripping or running into things, it might be worth reorganizing the area to define a clear walking path.

5. Helping Items in Your Living Rooms

Similar to your bedroom, your living room should have a light that is easily accessible. Sofas with armrests are helpful for support when getting up and sitting down. Avoiding clutter in your walkways, rugs that are not secured down and unstable furniture are important to consider when preventing falls.

6. Actions to Avoid in Your Home

There are other ways to fall besides slipping or tripping while walking. Never stand on chairs, boxes or other unstable items in your home. Walkways should be tidy and free of objects that you could trip on. Spills should be cleaned up right away to prevent slipping.

7. Wear Appropriate Footwear

Wearing shoes with non-slip soles and closed toes can help prevent you from falling.  Having shoes that fit properly, are made from hard rubber (like tennis shoes) and provide good support help prevent tripping and falling. Shoes with a collar that support the ankle and a well-padded tongue for the top of your foot can also help prevent injury to your feet.

8. Review Your Health & Medications at your Annual Health Check-Up

It is important to review your health and medications with your healthcare provider so they can assess if you are at risk for falls. You should discuss your vision, heart health and blood pressure at your annual health check-up. These things can play a role in the risk of falling. Reviewing your current medications is also important. If medications are making you dizzy, talk to your provider about adjusting the dosage so you can feel more stable and balanced. When talking to your doctor about medications be sure to include your vitamins and supplements. Finally, Have your healthcare provider check your feet and discuss proper footwear yearly.

RELATED: The Importance of Annual Exams & Routine Screenings

9. Avoid Smoking and Alcohol

Balance is important in preventing falls. Alcohol consumption negatively affects balance and increases your risk for falls and fractures. It also increases your risk for cancer, liver damage, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and strokes. Smoking is connected to frailty in older adults. It prevents the development of muscle tissue and breaks down healthy muscle tissue due to the lack of oxygen in your body. 

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