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Staying Safe at Home - Fall Prevention

12-02-2015

Every year, one in every three adults ages 65 or older falls. Two million of them are treated in Emergency Departments for fall-related injuries, including hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries. The long-term consequences of these injuries often significantly affects the health and independence of older adults.

Thankfully, falls are not an inevitable part of aging. In fact, many falls can be prevented. Everyone can take actions to reduce their risk of falling. The four most effective things you can do to prevent falls:

  1. Exercise to improve your balance and strength

Lack of exercise leads to weakness and increases your chances of falling. Practicing the gentle movements of Tai Chi or yoga will improve your balance and make your legs stronger while improving your outlook and giving you more energy. Ask your doctor or health care provider about the best type of exercise program for you.

  1. Have your health care provider review your medicines

As you get older, the way medicines work in your body can change. Some medicines, or combinations of medicines, can make you sleepy or dizzy, and can cause you to fall. Have your doctor or pharmacist review all the medicines you take, even over-the-counter medicines and supplements.

  1. Have your vision checked

Poor vision can increase your chances of falling. Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year, and update your eyeglasses. You may be wearing the wrong prescription, or have a condition like glaucoma or cataracts that limits your vision.

  1. Make your home safer

About half of all falls happen at home. To make your home safer:

  • Improve the lighting in your home. As we get older, we need brighter lights to see well.
  • Hang lightweight curtains or shades to reduce glare.
  • Remove things you can trip over (like papers, books, clothes and shoes) from stairs, hallways and floors.
  • Remove small throw rugs or use double-sided tape to keep the rugs from slipping.
  • Keep items you use often in cabinets that you can reach easily without using a step stool.
  • Have grab bars put in inside the tub and next to the toilet.
  • Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors.
  • Have handrails and lights installed on all staircases.
  • Wear shoes both inside and outside the house. Avoid going barefoot or wearing loose-fitting footwear like slippers.