Over one third of all seniors ages 65 years and older fall at least once a year in the United States. These falls can lead to broken bones and might result in extended hospital stays, nursing home placement, infections and even death. Needless to say, falls for the elderly are very dangerous. Here are some tips to proactively lower the risk of senior falls:
Exercise Regularly: Activities such as walking, water workouts, or anything that improves strength, balance, coordination, and flexibility can go a long way towards fall prevention. Ask your doctor about what exercises might be right for you or your loved one.
Visit Your Doctor: Make sure to have regular eye examinations and wearing proper corrective lenses. Have your doctor check the side-effects of all your medications that might lead to increased fall risk (i.e. drowsiness, blurred vision, dizziness).
Remove Home Hazards: Make sure all extension and electrical cords are out of the way. Move coffee tables, standing lamps, plants, etc. from high trafficked areas of the home. Secure or remove any loose rugs. Make sure to store clothing, dishes, and food in easy to reach spots. Clean up all spills immediately. Use non-skid floor wax.
Wear Proper Shoes: High heels, floppy slippers and shoes with slick soles could increases the chances of falling. Walking in your stocking feet can also be hazardous. Make sure to have your foot measured each time you buy shoes because foot size can change. Buy properly fitting shoes with non-skid soles. Avoid shoes with extra thick soles. Choose lace up shoes over slip on shoes and keep the laces tied securely.
Light Up Your Home Properly: Keep your home well lit to avoid tripping on hard to see objects. Place night lights in your bedroom, bathroom, and hallways. Place a lamp within reach of your bed. Consider using illuminated light switches. Always turn on lights before going up or down stairs. Make sure to store flashlights in easy to find places in case of a power outage. Use sensor lights that detect movement for the outside of your house.
Install Assistive Devices: Use a cane or walker if your doctor recommends one. Add handrails to both sides of stairways. Put non-slip treads on bare-wood steps. Install a raised toilet seat or one with armrests and grab bars for the shower and tub. Consider using a sturdy plastic seat for the shower or tub and a hand held shower for bathing.
Following these tips may help you or your loved one have a safer home and can lower the risk of elderly falls.