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Simple tips for lowering fall risk in older adults

Simple tips for lowering fall risk in older adults.

According to the Centers for Disease Control each year, one in every three adults age 65 and older falls.  Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries among older adults.

How can older adults prevent these falls?  Environmental and health factors  can  both lead to falls.  Listed below are some preventative actions that older adults can take to decrease their chance of falling both in and out of the home.

Health Factors:

  • Exercise regularly. It is important that the exercises focus on increasing leg strength and improving balance, and that they get more challenging over time. Tai Chi programs are especially good.
  • Ask their doctor or pharmacist to review their medicines—both prescription and over-the counter—to identify medicines that may cause side effects or interactions such as dizziness or drowsiness.
  • Have their eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year and update their eyeglasses to maximize their vision.  Consider getting a pair with single vision distance lenses for some activities such as walking outside. Clean eyeglasses regularly.
  • Talk to their doctor about adequate calcium and vitamin D intake—from food and/or from supplements.
  • Do weight bearing exercise.
  • Get screened and, if needed, treated for osteoporosis.

Environmental Factors to consider (this list does not include all potential hazards, but is a good place to start.)

  • Place lamps and a cordless phone within easy reach of the bed or often-used chair.
  • Ensure there is a clear pathway between the bedroom and bathroom.
  • Set up nightlights in the bedroom and bathroom.
  • Keep a flashlight close to the bedside and another in the kitchen in case of emergencies.
  • Discard all throw rugs.
  • Ensure suitable chair heights, including tub and toilet seats.
  • Double check shoes for proper fit, preferably they are low heels and slippers with non-skid soles.
  • Ensure there is a long-handled shoehorn to assist putting on footwear.
  • Organize clothes and necessities so they are within easy reach.
  • Maintain assistive devices, such as walkers, canes, wheelchairs and others in good working order
  •  Add grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower and next to the toilet
  • Add railings on both sides of stairways
  • Improve the general  lighting in the home.

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