We are not made of rubber.
The hard truth is that when we fall, we won’t bounce right back up. According to the World Health Organization, 28-35% of people over the age of 65 will fall each year.
Falls are responsible for 10-15% of visits to the emergency department and for more than 50% of injury-related hospitalizations in people over the age of 65.
A fall in your senior years can often result in hip fractures, traumatic brain injuries or broken arms. These all cause serious, negative impacts to the body. After a fall, most seniors may experience:
- A decrease in independence
- A loss of mobility
Falls can drastically reduce your ability to enjoy your daily activities. The secret to preventing injuries from falls can be split into these 2 categories:
- Keeping your body healthy
- Making your environment safer.
Check out these 10 tips to help keep you on your feet and participating in the activities you love:
Keep Your Body Healthy
The National Institute of Aging reports that taking steps to improve your overall health can help to lower your chance of falling.
1. The More You Move, the Less You Fall
Regular exercise that focuses on flexibility, strength training and balance can help keep your muscles strong. You are more likely to have flexible joints, tendons and ligaments. When you stumble, you will be more likely to catch yourself. Exercise also keeps your bones stronger and reduces your risk of osteoporosis.
2. Plan For Strong Bones
You won’t always be able to prevent a fall but you can decrease the effects of the fall by keeping your bones strong. You will want to make sure that your diet includes enough calcium and vitamin D.
Remember that activities like smoking, alcohol use and being at an unhealthy weight can also decrease your bone mass and increase the likelihood of breaking a bone when you fall.
3. Monitor Your Medications
The more medications you take, the higher your risk of falling. Medications can include side effects such as dizziness, confusion, sleepiness, weakness or urgency to get to the bathroom. When you take multiple medications, it increases your chance of side effects. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about any side effects that you notice with your medications.
Have you ever heard the expression “falling asleep on your feet”? Not getting enough sleep means you can be more confused, move slower and less aware of your surroundings. An inadequate amount or quality of sleep can decrease your response time and reflexes. If you are feeling tired and drowsy, get more rest instead or sit down and wait for your mind to clear.
5. Don’t Drink and Walk
Drinking alcohol can impact your vision, hearing, balance and awareness of your environment. You can misjudge your step quite easily or not be aware of objects around you. When you combine alcohol use with medications, it increases your risk of falls resulting in serious injuries.
Making Your Environment Safer
Most falls are a result of a combination of risk factors. You can’t change some of the risks (like aging!) but you can change a few things in your environment to keep you safer.
6. Wear Sensible, Good Shoes
High heels, loose-fitting shoes and slip-on backless shoes are a major risk factor for falls and a quick problem to fix. High heels shorten your stride and make you more likely to trip.
They might not be the most fashionable shoes to wear but the National Institute on Aging recommends to wear shoes that are non-skid, rubber-soled and with a low heel. Or lace-up shoes with non-skid soles. And don’t you dare go sliding around the floors in your socks!
7. Get Rid of Household Hazards
Take a critical look around your house and yard. Are there any objects that you have almost tripped on? Or pieces of furniture that are unstable? Piles of clutter that block the entrance? Small rugs are also hazardous. Those all need to go!
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that most falls happen at home. So make home your safe zone by removing clutter and making sure you have lots of light.
8. Beware of the Bathroom
Bathrooms are a common place to fall. Wet, slippery surfaces and moving too quickly are a bad combination. Make sure that you have non-slip bath mats both in the shower/tub and outside. Have grab bars professionally installed next to and inside the tub as well as next to the toilet.
9. Use Caution on Wet and Icy Surfaces
How many people do you know who have slipped on an ice patch? Pretty much everybody has at one time. Ice is slippery! As we age, slipping on the ice becomes more than a potentially embarrassing situation.
You will want to make sure that your walkways and stairs are free of ice and puddles. Take your time and wear sturdy footwear to prevent slipping. Don’t carry too many things in your hands (groceries or packages) as this can upset your balance and make it difficult to see something in your path.
If you can, stay home during bad weather. Services like Amazon can be an option for groceries or big items to be delivered right to your footstep during winter days.
10. Go Slow and Use Help
It is common to feel lightheaded and unsteady when you first stand up. Make it a habit to stand up slowly and take a minute to get your bearings before you start to move.
Using a cane or a walker will also give you something to hold onto when you are moving. This can be especially important when walking outside. Talk to a physical or occupational therapist about which device might be most helpful for you and how to use a walker or cane.
A fear of falling can cause you to be at a higher risk of falling! Being afraid that you will fall may cause you to cut down on your regular activities. You might be tempted to stay at home and not move around.
When you are active you keep yourself stronger and decrease your risk of falling.
Start small. But get yourself moving. Even a simple exercise like practicing going from sitting to standing every day will lower your risk of falling.
Did you know that Nurse Next Door’s caregivers can accompany you for a regular walk outside? Learn how we can keep you healthier, safer and happier at home? Call us toll free at +1(877) 588-8609!