Falls are the number one cause of injury among people over the age of 65. Falls can lead to serious complications and lasting side effects, so it’s important to take steps to minimize the risk. While preventable hazards at home can often be to blame for causing one to fall, weakness, poor vision and movement problems related to a recent injury or chronic disease can also be put you at high risk for falling.
“Research shows that many falls are preventable,” said Jessica Chancey, occupation therapist with Archbold Home Health. “While we are helping patients recover at home from a recent illness or injury, one of our top priorities is to help prevent our patients from encountering dangerous falls. Our staff educates patients on how they can safely navigate their home, and makes recommendations on precautions that can be implemented to help prevent falls.”
Chancey recommends implementing several simple steps to reduce your loved one’s risk of falling at home.
“Certain blood pressure medication, heart medicine, water pills, muscle relaxers and sleeping pills have side effects, such as dizziness or drowsiness, which could increase the risk of falling. Consult with your primary physician about all medication. Some medications taken together can also lead to these side effects,” said Chancey. “It should also be a priority to get a vision and hearing checkup at least once a year, possibly more often if problems start to occur. Double check that all glasses and hearing aids are up to date and meeting specific needs.”
“Physical activity and exercise improve strength, coordination and balance, which will in turn reduce the risk of falling. Always check with your doctor first, though, before starting a new exercise regimen. Properly fitting, sturdy shoes with nonskid soles are better compared to heels, slippers and slick-soled shoes,” said Chancey. “Try to limit wearing socks, as they pose a higher threat of slipping.”
“The majority of falls occur in the home, so it is important to remove any possible hazards,” said Chancey. “Relocate miscellaneous things, such as boxes, excesses furniture, plants and other unnecessary items from high foot traffic areas. Secure or remove rugs and repair any flooring or carpet that is damaged. Don’t be afraid to install a safety aid,” added Chancy. “Devices such as grab bars or handrails can easily be purchased from the Archbold Homecare Store, and they are very helpful in navigating normal everyday activities when installed properly. Canes and walkers are also good devices to have on hand.”
Chancey noted that being proactive is the best strategy when it comes to preventing falls. Alongside these simple steps, going at a slower pace and limiting alcohol intake are good ideas to reduce your fall risk. She recommends talking to your primary care physician about specific medical conditions that could increase the risk of a fall.