A fall can potentially be devastating for a senior.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that one third of seniors (aged 65 years and older) fall every year but less than fifty percent of them speak to their doctors about it. Falls are one of the top 10 causes of injuries and fatalities for seniors according to the CDC and cost around $34 billion in medical costs. Senior fall prevention tips not only save you or your loved ones costly medical expenses but they can save a life as well.
- Regular Exercise: Exercise is important for everyone but even more so for seniors who may be losing muscle tone as they age and aren’t as active as they were in their youth. Exercise programs for seniors can help improve leg strength and balance. Many senior community centers or local YMCA’s offer discounted exercise classes for seniors. Yoga and Tai Chi classes offer a more relaxing exercise regimen and are a good way to socialize as well. If you are worried that physical activity will increase the chance of a fall, speak with your doctor. You may get referred to a physical therapist that can create a personalized exercise program for you.
- Review Medication Side Effects: Many medications list dizziness as a side effect. It is a good idea to review all of your prescription medications and over the counter medications and supplements with your doctor periodically to find out about any side effects or interactions that can make a fall more likely. It is always good to keep multiple copies of a complete medication and supplement list. Remember to bring a copy with you to every doctor’s visit in case you get prescribed a new medication.
- Regular Eye and Ear Checkups: Even older adults who have had perfect vision their entire lives should start scheduling yearly checkups with an eye doctor. Seniors may not notice a slow decline in their vision until an incident occurs. Keeping up to date with eyeglass prescriptions can go a long way in preventing falls. There are many programs, such as EyeCare America, which offer free eye exams to qualifying seniors. Ear infections and other ear disorders can affect your balance and perception as well.
- Keep a Journal: If you have fallen before, write down the details about the incident. Include what time of day it was, where you were, and what you were doing when the fall occurred. Write down instances when you had a near fall but grabbed onto a something or someone nearby. Keeping track of the details surrounding a fall or near-fall can help you avoid similar circumstances in the future.
- Home Safety: Seniors can reduce falls by making their homes safer. Tripping hazards like rugs and extension cords can become huge fall hazards for seniors who may not notice them. There are many companies that will come to your home and do a free home safety assessment. They will make recommendations about adding grab bars in the bathrooms or improving old staircase railings. Increasing the lighting in the home is an easy way to make it safer as well.
We hope these fall prevention tips for seniors help you and your loved ones remain safe and healthy in your homes. If you know of any senior fall prevention tips that aren’t listed in this article and that have worked for you please let us know in the comment section. If you are concerned that someone you know is a fall risk and would like to find out about resources that can help, please call the Assisting Hands office at 973-970-2723.