5 Simple Fall Prevention Tips for Seniors
Falls may not seem like a big deal to a younger person but, to a senior, a fall can be serious. Falls contribute to significant declines in overall health and life expectancy for seniors, not to mention the loss of independence.
Consider these simple tips for avoiding falls and the associated health problems that inevitably go with them.
- Walk daily for 15 to 30 minutes.
- Join an exercise program to promote strength, balance and coordination. Tai chi is known to improve both balance and coordination. Climbing stairs, weight training, dancing and bike riding improve strength, endurance and bone density to prevent fractures.
2. Understand your medications and know your body
- Make sure medication lists are up to date and are reviewed during physician visits. Check with your physicians about major side effects, particularly for medications that cause lightheadedness, fatigue or confusion.
- Do not smoke, as smoking decreases bone density, making an injury from a fall more likely. Avoid excess alcohol, which can contribute to falls.
- Increase dietary calcium and vitamin D and check with your physician about taking a vitamin supplement.
- Schedule regular eye exams and physician visits to evaluate for cardiac and blood pressure problems.
3. Wear proper footwear
- Ensure shoes fit properly and wear non-skid soles. Avoid high heels and tie shoe laces.
- Walk with bare feet in the home, unless your doctor wants you wearing shoes, and avoid stockings and loose slippers.
4. Modify your home
- Ensure there is adequate lighting near your bed, including lamps, flashlights and nightlights in walking paths and bathrooms.
- Eliminate clutter from the floors and keep extension cords taped to the baseboards.
- Secure loose area rugs with double-faced tape or slip resistant backing.
- Install hand rails on both sides of the stairway, at least 30 inches above the stairs and extending the full length of the stairway.
- In the bathroom, consider installing rubber mats inside the bathtub, raised toilet seats, sturdy plastic seats in the bathtub, shatter-proof glass shower doors, and handrails on the bathroom walls and/or shower stall or bathtub walls.
5. Know who you will contact when you need help
- Keep telephone numbers for neighbors, friends and family nearby.
- Call 911 for any emergency.
- Consider an emergency alert system if you live alone.
What room in your home needs to be modified to reduce fall hazards? Where is your list of emergency contact numbers? Is it up to date? Share your thoughts below.