Fall Prevention

Health and disease prevention is the most effective way to improve our quality of life. For our Seniors, one of the largest health concerns are fall-related injuries. Fall prevention plans and strategies are a must for maintaining the quality of life of our Seniors. As you get older, physical changes and health conditions, and even the medications used to treat those common health conditions, make falls more likely.

Fall prevention training is the best way to head off unwanted injury.. Consider some simple fall-prevention strategies.

Begin with making an appointment with your healthcare provider

Information discussed with your Doctor should include:

  • What medications are you taking?

  • Have you fallen before?

  • Could your health conditions cause a fall?

Make a list of your prescription and over-the-counter medications and supplements, and bring them with you to the appointment. Your doctor can review your medications for side effects and interactions that may increase your risk of falling. If necessary, write down the details, including when, where and how you have fallen in the past or felt off balance. Be prepared to discuss instances when you almost fell, but were caught by someone or managed to grab hold of something just in time. Details such as these may help your doctor identify specific fall-prevention strategies.

Certain disorders may increase your risk of falls. Be prepared to discuss your health conditions and how comfortable you are when you walk. For example, do you feel any dizziness, joint pain, shortness of breath, or numbness in your feet and legs when you walk? Your doctor may evaluate your muscle strength, balance and walking style (gait) as well.

Your doctor might recommend using a cane or walker to keep you steady. Assistive devices can help, too. For example:

  • Hand rails for both sides of stairways

  • Nonslip treads for bare-wood steps

  • A raised toilet seat or one with armrests

  • Grab bars for the shower or tub

  • A sturdy plastic seat for the shower or tub — plus a hand-held shower nozzle for bathing while sitting down

One of the best plans for fall prevention is to KEEPMOVING

Physical activity can go a long way toward fall prevention. With your doctor's OK, consider activities such as walking, water workouts or tai chi. Such activities reduce the risk of falls by improving strength, balance, coordination and flexibility.

If you avoid physical activity because you're afraid it will make a fall more likely, tell your doctor. He or she may recommend carefully monitored exercise programs or refer you to a physical therapist. The physical therapist can create a custom exercise program aimed at improving your balance, flexibility, muscle strength and gait. Most people do not know that you do not have to wait for an injury to get benefits from seeing a physical therapist. With a doctor's orders, Senior adults can train with a physical therapist to decrease their fall risk, and learn how to prevent unwanted injury in their day to day activity. This service can even be covered by health insurance to lower out of pocket costs.

If necessary, ask your doctor for a referral to an occupational therapist. He or she can help you brainstorm other fall-prevention strategies. Some solutions are easily installed and relatively inexpensive. Others may require professional help or a larger investment. If you're concerned about the cost, remember that an investment in fall prevention is an investment in your independence and wellness.

Wear sensible shoes

Consider changing your footwear as part of your fall-prevention plan. High heels, floppy slippers and shoes with slick soles can make you slip, stumble and fall. So can walking in your stocking feet. Instead, wear properly fitting, sturdy shoes with nonskid soles. Sensible shoes may also reduce joint pain.

Remove home hazards and Light up your living space

Take a look around your home. Your living room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, hallways and stairways may be filled with hazards. To make your home safer:

  • Remove boxes, newspapers, electrical cords and phone cords from walkways.

  • Move coffee tables, magazine racks and plant stands from high-traffic areas.

  • Secure loose rugs with double-faced tape, tacks or a slip-resistant backing — or remove loose rugs from your home.

  • Repair loose, wooden floorboards and carpeting right away.

  • Store clothing, dishes, food and other necessities within easy reach.

  • Immediately clean spilled liquids, grease or food.

  • Use non slip mats in your bathtub or shower. Use a bath seat, which allows you to sit while showering.

  • Keep your home brightly lit to avoid tripping on objects that are hard to see.

  • Place night lights in your bedroom, bathroom and hallways.

  • Place a lamp within reach of your bed for middle-of-the-night needs.

  • Make clear paths to light switches that aren't near room entrances. Consider trading traditional switches for glow-in-the-dark or illuminated switches.

  • Turn on the lights before going up or down stairs.

  • Store flashlights in easy-to-find places in case of power outages.

Do not wait till after a fall to talk to your healthcare provider about your concerns. We all know prevention is better than treatment when it comes to our health and well-being! Some activity programs in Senior communities may offer a physical therapist on site, or have trained professionals coming into teach fall prevention techniques. Talk to your activity personnel about what your Senior Community may offer to improve your chances of keeping falls at bay, in addition to strategies listed above.

Fear of falling doesn't need to rule your life.

Be Proactive educate yourself, ask for help, and YOU can Live your life to the fullest.