Fall Prevention Awareness Week
As we grow older our bodies change in ways that can increase our risk of falling. In fact, falls are a leading cause of injury among older adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year millions of older people, those 65 and older, fall. More than one-in-four older people fall each year, but less than half tell their doctor. Falling once doubles your chances of falling again. Many of these falls sadly, result in serious injury and loss of mobility and independence. This year, Fall Prevention Awareness Week takes place September 20th – 24th seriousness of fall and explore ways to reduce fall risks.
Why do older adults fall?
Some of the reasons people fall are:
- Tripping or slipping due to loss of footing or traction
- Slow reflexes, which make it hard to keep your balance or move out of the way of a hazard
- Balance problems
- Reduced muscle strength
- Poor vision
- Medication side effects
Most falls are caused by a combination of these risk factors. The more risk factors a person has, the greater their chances of falling. The great news is we have control over some of these changes and the fear of falling doesn’t need to rule your life. By putting some simple strategies into place, from talking with your doctor to hazard proofing your home, many falls can be prevented.
So here are 6 tips to help keep you safe.
1. Have a heart to heart with your doctor.
Begin your fall prevention plan by making an appointment with your doctor. Be prepared to discuss all medications you are taking. Prescription, over-the-counter medications, and supplements—make a list, or take them with you to your appointment. Your doctor will want to review your medications for possible side effects or interactions with one another that may increase your risk of falling. Your doctor may even consider weaning you off of some medications that make you drowsy, lightheaded, or impact your mental acuity to further prevent falls.
2. Fall evaluation, manage health conditions.
Your doctor will also want to discuss previous falls. Do your best to write down details, including when, where, and how you fell or instances when you almost fell but were caught by someone or managed to stop the fall by grabbing hold of something. All of this information will help your doctor to assess any underlying medical issues such as dizziness, joint pain, eye or ear disorders which can increase your risk of a fall. Your doctor may also evaluate your balance, nutrition, muscle strength, and walking gait.
3. Movement matters.
Did you know our core muscles play a big part in our balance and stability? Making sure your core muscles are healthy and engaged is important to your overall muscle health and stability.
Physical activity can go a long way toward preventing falls. Discuss with your doctor activities that might be best suited for you such as walking, workouts in the water, gardening, light weight-conditioning, or tai chi, a low-impact, relaxing form of exercise that only takes about 20 minutes a day. All of these activities improve balance, strength, coordination, and flexibility. Each exercise also engages your core.
4. Make your home safer.
The CDC reports that every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in an emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, tragically an older adult dies from a fall. Fifty-five percent of those falls take place inside the home.
Some falls happen when we don’t realize that our physical ability has changed. We continue to do tasks that put us at risk, like shoveling snow or climbing a ladder. However, if we identify and correct possible hazards, change how we do things, and ask for help when we need it, we can greatly decrease our chances of falling.
5. Footwear first.
High heels, floppy slippers, and shoes with slick soles may be your preferred go-to shoe but they can make you trip, slip, stumble, and fall. The same goes for walking in sock-covered feet, which could cause you to slide. Instead choose well-fitted, sturdy shoes with a non-slip sole and low broad heel. Wearing sensible shoes may also reduce foot joint pain as well as muscle and ligament inflammation.
6. Handrails for steady support.
As we age, maintaining our balance is often a struggle. Be sure stairs are well lit and there are handrails on both sides of the staircase, if possible. Wherever there are steps, there should be properly mounted, sturdy handrails. If necessary, consider having a stair lift installed, a great safety feature for those with bedrooms on the second floor of their homes.
By making small improvements to your life and surroundings, you can significantly decrease your chances of falling. Preventing falls is critical so you can stay active, healthy, be independent, and above all, enjoy what you love to do!
Do you have a great tip for preventing falls? If so, we’d love to hear it. Visit Home Hazard Prevention on Facebook to share your tips.
‘Safety Nick’, as he is affectionately known, is the owner and operator of Home Hazard Prevention, LLC (HHP). As a professional firefighter in the Valley since 2005 with an extensive background in responding to and preventing emergencies, Nick felt that it was time to help the citizens of Maricopa and Pinal Counties learn how to be safe and protect their loved ones in a proactive manner. In 2012, HHP was launched. With the support of his wonderful (and understanding!) wife and two beautiful children, Nick works tireless hours, not only to help save your family’s lives, as a firefighter and a community safety expert, but also to be able to spend quality time with his family. Nick moved to Arizona over 20 years ago and enjoys exploring our great state with his family.
Be sure to contact Home Hazard Prevention for any of your family or business safety needs. From mobile CPR training to car seat education to infant safety (and much more!) HHP is here to help! Remember, a complete safety program does not have to be expensive or time-consuming. There is no one more qualified than a group of professional firefighters to keep your family safe! (480) 448-0266 or Nick@HomeHazardPrevention.com
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