Older adults have a significantly increased fall risk, with one in four people over the age of 65 having a dangerous fall every year. According to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of injury deaths for seniors and often result in fractures, but individuals may not bring up past falls or feelings of unsteadiness with their doctor. Learning and utilizing proper fall prevention tips and products can help you stay on your feet and independent for years to come!
Assess your risk factors
There are many individual factors which can cause a person to be more at risk for falling, one of the major ones being a history of previous falls. Others factors which may lead to an increased chance of falling include:
- Certain medications, like psychoactives
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Struggles with gait, balance, or strength
- Physical issues like hypotension and foot related problems
- Decreased visual acuity
- Cognitive impairment
You can schedule a fall risk screening with your medical provider and communicate any concerns with your doctor, especially if you have had any previous falls or have been feeling unsteady.
Risk factors can also be found around your home. Normal household items or structural features can be tripping hazards or increase fall risk. Stairs, throw rugs, slippery tubs, cords, smooth floors, and even a low toilet can be a problem for older adults. Occupational therapists or other professionals can check your home for fall hazards and make recommendations.
How to prevent falls
Low impact exercise is a great way to strengthen and improve strength, gait, and balance deficiencies which can lead to falls. Physical therapists can work with seniors on these issues, and many places offer fall prevention classes which focus on fitness and activity to counteract physical factors leading to fall risks.
There are also many products which can make your house and movement safer in regards to fall prevention. Th include:
- Fall monitor alerts or alarms
- Grab bars
- Shower or bath mats
- Shower chairs or benches
- Toilet safety frame
- Mobility aids like canes or walkers
- Stair treads
- Hip protectors and helmets
- Nonslip socks
- Bed rails
- Reaching aids