Six Tips For Reducing Fall Risk You Can Implement Right Now

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Falling represents one of the most pressing health concerns facing older adults – according to the CDC, every year three million older adults are treated in emergency rooms for falls.

Falls can result in serious injuries like hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries, and even death, and falling once doubles the chances of falling again.

So as people consider ways to reduce fall risk, either in themselves or a loved one, it can seem daunting – with so many risk factors, how can we prevent them all?

[Related: What To Do If You Suffer a Fall]

It doesn’t have to be overwhelming – within this blog we offer six safety tips you or a loved one can take action with to help reduce fall risk. Each one offers practical advice and solutions that can help you take a step towards safety.

#1: Start Or Expand A Workout Routine

One of the best things we can do to help prevent falls as older adults is to get our bodies moving as we strive for healthy aging. We begin losing muscle mass in our 30s, and while it might not be noticeable until you get into your senior years, that deterioration increases the risk of a fall as we age.

[Related: Effects Of Falling On Seniors Mental Health]

To counteract that, a regular fitness routine and physical activity can help maintain and even build muscle mass and improve balance, lowering the risk of a fall for seniors.

If fitness isn’t currently part of your daily habits, see your primary care physician to get a physical and recommendations on where to start. From there, they might offer some basic exercises you can perform daily to get started. You might also want to consider seeing a certified trainer with expertise in the fitness needs of older adults.

If you’re already active, safely increasing and mixing up your activity not only helps physically, but challenges the brain and can help with cognition.

For guidance on a fitness program, start with the CDC’s recommendation of 150 minutes of activity per week. That may sound daunting at first, but it breaks down to 30 minutes, five times a week.

#2: Go Room By Room Looking At Fall Risks

The home should be a place where you feel safe and secure, but it’s also the most likely place you might suffer a fall. There are all sorts of hazards throughout the house you may not consider – here are a few things to check to help prevent falls, and you can see a more complete list here:

Living Room / Bedroom:

  • Remove loose cords and wires or fasten them to baseboards or the floor where possible.
  • Remove unnecessary clutter like piles of newspapers, magazines, laundry, etc.
  • Remove or limit end tables or other small pieces of furniture in well-traveled areas.

Staircase:

  • Check that handrails are securely fastened to the wall, and none are loose.
  • If stairs are carpeted, ensure the carpet is securely glued to the floor with no lumps or loose areas. If stairs are hardwood, install non-slip adhesive strips.
  • While they can be expensive and require an installation process, consider a chairlift.

Bathroom:

  • Install non-slip mats or pads in the shower or tub.
  • Have a waterproof stool or chair for the shower for ease and comfort.
  • Install weight-bearing grab bars or railings for assistance getting up and down.

#3: Light Up Your Life

One of the easiest ways to help reduce fall risk: check the lights. It can be easy to let one or two burned out bulbs linger before getting to them, but lights play an important role in preventing falls.

As you go room by room as noted above, check every light and lamp to make sure all the bulbs are still working. If any are out, replace them as quickly as possible. Also try to always have replacements available so that you can quickly swap them out.

We also recommend nightlights for the bedroom, bathroom, and any hallways you may walk at night. It can become common as we age to need to get up in the night, and stumbling in the dark is a tremendous fall risk for older adults. Find the right balance in making sure the nightlights are bright enough to allow you to see where you’re going in the dark, but not so bright that they impact your ability to sleep.

#4: See Your Doctor

We mentioned earlier seeing a doctor about starting a fitness program, but it’s vital to keep up with routine appointments, especially if you haven’t been in a while.

For one, the doctor can perform tests to gauge your balance and walking gait, two important factors in fall safety for older adults. Gait and balance diminish with age, and it’s vital that your doctor track any deterioration.

Furthermore, eyesight and hearing tests are vital for reducing fall risk – many falls occur because people can’t see a hazard, or hear something, or someone, around a corner. If you already wear glasses, make regular eye appointments to ensure your prescription still fits your needs.

And speaking of prescriptions, often a fall can occur because medication causes someone to be shaky on their feet or become drowsy and lose their balance.

Your doctor should know if you’re having any new or adverse symptoms from medications, and they can possibly make changes to dosages if necessary.

#5: Check Your Fit, So That It Fits

Amid all the other fall risks that exist for older adults, wardrobe may not be top of mind, but clothing can make a difference.

If you like wearing long, flowing dresses, it’s easy for them to get caught under your feet and cause you to lose your balance. The same can go for pants that aren’t properly fitted and can get tangled up in your feet.

It’s common for older adults to shrink with age, and over time even losing half an inch of height can impact how clothes fit and increase the risk of falling.

Footwear also plays a big role – you can purchase non-slip socks or slippers to wear around the house, which is particularly important if you have hardwood floors and/or stairs. For outdoors, sturdy shoes that properly fit the shape of your feet also help prevent falls.

#6: Talk To Someone

Everything we’ve discussed so far has been physical elements you can check or adjust. But there’s another aspect of falling that’s just as important: mental health.

Falls, and the fear of falling, can play just as big of a role in mental health as in physical well-being. Someone who’s suffered a fall, or is afraid of falling, can live with fear and anxiety, and as a result, withdraw from daily activities.

Doing so can cause or increase loneliness and isolation, two of the biggest mental health concerns faced by older adults.

If you’re a senior concerned about falling, it can be uncomfortable, but we highly recommend discussing it with your family and your physician. Likewise, if you’re a loved one of an older adult or a caregiver and notice less willingness to take part in activities or leave the house, consider that a fear of falling may be the reason.

Fall Safety At Prestige Senior Living

Falling is a real concern for older adults – the National Council On Aging reports that one in four people over the age of 65 fall each year.

Here at Prestige Senior Living, fall reduction is at the heart of everything we do. Upon moving in, residents can participate in fitness classes that best suit their ability and comfort. Classes can be performed seated, standing or a combination of both, and help counteract the muscle loss that comes with age while improving balance and stamina.

Meanwhile, our apartments are outfitted with important safety features like grab bars in bathrooms, non-slip mats and emergency all buttons. Outside the apartment, the community in general is clear of unnecessary clutter and is always well-lit.

If you’d like to learn more on how Prestige Senior Living can help you or a loved one prevent falls, contact the community nearest you to meet a member of our team.