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  • Writer's pictureArwen Rasmussen

Don’t Fall in Any Season

Are you an older adult an afraid of falling? You are not alone. Injuries relating to falls are the leading cause of emergency department visits for older adults and are common causes of hip fractures and serious head injuries. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “One out of three older people falls each year, but less than half tell their doctor. Falling once doubles your chances of falling again.” Many older adults can maintain their independence by becoming aware of fall risks and apply fall prevention concepts to help avoid injuries.

Talk to your doctor. Discuss with your doctor any of your concerns. Tell the doctor if you have fallen before, what medications you are taking and any side effects that may increase your risk of a fall, and if you have any health conditions that could cause you to fall. Also, have your vision tested by an eye doctor. Older adults with “severe vision problems are almost twice as likely to fall as those without vision impairment.”

Use assistive devices. Consider installing grab bars or railings around your house, place nonslip mats in your shower and bath, add a seat in your tub or shower with the option to sit with a hand held shower nozzle, mount a raised toilet seat with arms or add nonslip treads on bare wood steps.

Use extra lights. Use nightlights in bedrooms, bathrooms, hallways, basement stairs and anywhere else you might walk at night. Have working flashlights readily available if the power goes out.

Get rid of hazards. Make sure you have clear walking paths around your home. Get someone to help rearrange furniture, tables, plant stands and magazine racks to allow more room to walk. Remove any electrical cords and phone cords that are in walkways and keep newspapers, magazines and boxes out of your walking path as well. Pick up any extra clutter around the house, walk carefully over mats or rugs, watch out for pets by your feet, fix loose floorboards or carpeting and wipe up any spills (water, grease or food) on the floor right away. Also, avoid standing on chairs or other items in order to reach something. Put things in easy to reach places.

Check your footwear. Make sure to wear nonskid shoes. Anything with slippery soles or little grip (high heels, slippers and even some socks) can cause slips, trips and falls.

Stay active every day. Physical activity improves strength, flexibility, endurance and balance. Always check with your doctor before beginning activities and find out which types of activities are best for you. There are many options available, including working with a physical therapist or participating in a closely monitored workout program for safety. Do not cut out activity entirely, as it can increase your risk for a fall.

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