While fall prevention may not be top of mind, it’s an important factor to consider as you think about your or a loved one’s overall health and well-being. In fact, falls are a leading cause of injury among older adults with 2.5 million older people treated in emergency departments for fall injuries each year. Additionally, at least 250,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures each year.
As you get older, physical changes and health conditions - and sometimes the medications used to treat those conditions- make falls more likely. Muscle weakness, balance issues and slower reflexes are all factors that contribute to increased fall risk. Some medications can also increase a person's risk of falling because they cause side effects like dizziness or confusion.
Here are a few easy steps you can take to help prevent falls and lower your or a loved one’s fall risk:
- See your doctor. Talk to your doctor about a personal fall risk assessment. Be prepared to discuss topics such as the medications you are taking (it’s helpful to make a list and bring it with you to your appointment), your fall history, and any health conditions you have that might increase your risk, such as eye and ear disorders, or dizzy spells. Your doctor may evaluate your muscle strength, balance and walking style (gait) as part of your risk assessment.
- Stay active. Physical activity reduces your fall risk by improving strength, balance, coordination, and flexibility. With your doctor's approval, consider activities such as walking, water workouts or yoga.
- Wear sensible shoes. High heels, floppy slippers, shoes with slick soles, even walking in your stocking feet, can make you slip, stumble and fall. Instead, wear properly fitting, sturdy shoes with nonskid soles.
- Remove home hazards. Take a look around your home for potential hazards such as phone cords, loose rugs, loose floorboards, or any small furniture in high-traffic areas. Always remember to immediately clean spilled liquids, grease or food from the floor to prevent slipping.
- Keep the lights on. Keep your home brightly lit to avoid tripping on objects that are hard to see. It is also a good idea to place night lights in bedrooms, bathrooms and hallways, as well as turning on the lights before going up or down stairs.
- Use assistive devices. If you think you need extra support around the house, consider having hand rails installed on both sides of the stairways or grab bars for the shower or tub.
Other good ideas are non-slip treads on bare wood steps and a raised toilet seat or one with armrests. If necessary, ask your doctor for a referral to an occupational therapist. He or she can help you brainstorm other fall-prevention strategies.
Learn more at Griffin Hospital
Griffin Hospital’s Outpatient Rehabilitation & Physical Therapy department offers assessment and treatment balance and fall prevention. Visit the department’s website or call 203-732-7445 for more information.
In addition, Griffin regularly hosts fall prevention events and information tables to provide expert information, answer questions and conduct fall assessment tests. Be sure to “like” the Griffin Hospital Facebook page and visit our events calendar to learn about upcoming fall prevention and other wellness events.
If you are at increased risk for fall or have a loved one who is, Griffin Hospital’s Lifeline medical alert service can provide vital protection while still allowing you or your loved to live independently.
Learn more - stay safe.
Learn more about Lifeline and how it can help you get help quickly in the event of a fall.