According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 1 in 4 older American adults aged 65+ falls each year. But your loved one does not have to be one of them! There are step you can take to prevent an injury from falling before it ever occurs. Even if serious injury is not the result of a fall, the act of falling can still impact a person’s quality of life. Just the scare of falling again or fear of falling in the future can lead to an aging individual to limit their activities and social interactions. This will inevitably result in further physical health decline and performing daily household routines, or withdrawing from attending activities outside of the home.
Preventing falls by taking proactive steps will help your loved one stay independent in their home longer as well. Here are three things you can start doing today to reduce the risk of falling.
“Could this area/item contribute to a fall? Could it be safer? If so, how?”.
While a self inspection of your home may turn up some items that need repaired such as wobbly handrailings or high bath tubs that could become difficult to navigate, you may need to hire a professional to provide expert home modification guidance. Here are some of the Look-Fors that a home modification specialist will identify during a walkthrough:
- Installation of handrails on both sides of a stairwell, or removing loose items that are easily tripped over or in an awkward home location. Does the bathroom need grab bars in the bathing area, a shower chair, and grippy bath mat in the shower?
- Are the walking paths clear? Can any end tables or unnecessary furniture be rearranged to make high-traffic areas less cluttered or wider?
- Is the home well lit during the day and at night? Using automatic night lights in the bathrooms, hallways, and bedrooms that turn on automatically if it becomes dark will put your mind at ease and create a safe environment without having to think about it every evening. This will significantly improve one’s ability to move safely around the home independently.
- Don’t forget about outside of the house! Do you need a ramp to safely enter and exit your home? Do any sidewalk seams need to be repaired so they are flat? Are the steps in the garage safe and well lit? These are also risk areas for potential falls to be aware of.
2. Remain Physically Active
By staying active and moving around simply with daily routines, this can significantly reduce the number of falls among aging adults. Adding simple exercises, just a few days a week, to your routine that improve balance, increase strength, and expand overall muscle flexibility and fitness will greatly reduce the risk of falling.
Taking an exercise class or scheduling physical therapy services are great ways to increase your strength, mobility and flexibility.
3. Use Safe Equipment, Including Proper Footwear
The equipment you or your older loved one uses daily should be safe and in good condition. If your loved one is at risk for falling, consider updating your lift chair, walker, or cane to assist with safe movement throughout the house. Wearing the correct footwear in all types of weather can also help prevent falls outside of the home. Inside of the home, consider no-slip slippers for walking around on hardwood floors.
By minimizing the occurrence of falls, this can prevent the fear of falling keep you from doing the things you love. Following these three tips will be worth the effort by creating a safer living arrangement and lowering the risk of falls.
At I-CARE, we help make communities and families stronger by enabling individuals of all ages and abilities to live more independent and fulfilling lives. Contact us today to learn how we can help 703-865-5893.