7 Steps to Reduce Falls for the Elderly Plus More - HealthProAdvice - Health and Wellness
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7 Steps to Reduce Falls for the Elderly Plus More

Author:

Tim Truzy is a rehabilitation counselor, educator, and former dispatcher from North Carolina.

A fall can lead to a need for medical attention for many people.

A fall can lead to a need for medical attention for many people.

Why Reducing Falls Among the Elderly is Important

Although falls may occur for every segment of the population, many such accidents can be prevented for everyone, including older individuals. A fall is best thought of as an unexpected change in body motion, loss of balance, or encountering an obstacle in a path of movement which results in a person landing on a floor or the ground. Falls are not a general consequence of growing older, but these incidents can be debilitating for seniors. In fact, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports people who experience one fall have twice the risk of another.

Approximately 35% of adults over 65 fall at least once each year. Many older individuals may never regain their independence and endure serious health issues afterwards. Falls are the leading cause of injuries among this growing population. About one in ten seniors will experience a fractured bone or other minor injuries, but some may die from these accidents. As a counselor, I’ve worked with older individuals on reducing fall risks in their environment. Many of the below suggestions benefit individuals with reduced vision, balance problems, or have loss some hearing as well. In essence, the below tips will benefit older adults, but everyone benefits from minimizing fall risks.

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Steps You Can Take to Reduce Fall Risks at Home

When considering the possibility of a fall occurring, there are several important steps you can take as preventive measures. Primarily, conduct a complete evaluation of your living space. As you examine the lay-out of your home, make sure clothes, books, and pillows are not scattered around the floors. In addition, clear walking paths between the kitchen, bathrooms, and other frequently used places. In essence, keep furniture and any obstacle which could cause a fall out of your indoor routes to these locations. Below I’ve provided more steps you can take to reduce fall risks.

Having adequate lighting in a home is important in reducing the likelihood of a fall.

Having adequate lighting in a home is important in reducing the likelihood of a fall.

1. Improve Lighting Inside your Home

In the daytime, you may want to open windows to let sunlight brighten darker areas of your home. At night, keep a flashlight in an easy to reach location. You may want to use a night light to light up hallways or bathrooms.

2. Avoid using Throw Rugs and Repair Loose Carpet

Check your house for loose carpet edges. These areas can cause you to trip. Repair these rough spaces in the carpet for safety. Likewise, throw rugs are dangerous because they may shift position when stepped on. Use double-sided pate to keep them from moving or remove them from your house.

Adding grab bars to areas of your home can help reduce the chance of falling.

Adding grab bars to areas of your home can help reduce the chance of falling.

3. Add Grab-Bars to Areas in your Home

Adding a grab-bar to the shower or tub can greatly help a person with maintaining balance. Bathrooms can have slippery floors, and these sturdy aids provide support. You may also wish to put one near your toilet. This will help you safely shift your weight and move around the bathroom. A grab-bar also has the added benefit of being there if you should begin to fall so you can hold on to something sturdy. Installing these aids is relatively inexpensive.

4. Evaluate and Clean Clutter from Outside Areas

Put away tools or seldom needed items in your yard. Move sticks or branches out of walking areas. Fix or replace any broken or shaky steps. Add handrails on indoor and outdoor stairs. Add outdoor lighting to brighten dark spaces.

5. Wear Appropriate Shoes

Sandals may not provide enough support for your feet. Shoes protecting the entire foot may be more appropriate. Areas of the foot such as toes are protected from bruising or injury when the whole foot is covered. In addition, some shoes may grip the floor better, preventing a fall. Consult with your physician if you may require specialized shoes for regular use,

Using a walker can help with mobility while reducing the risk of falling.

Using a walker can help with mobility while reducing the risk of falling.

6. Use a Cane or Walker for Mobility

Canes can help you stabilize your body as you move. They can also provide support when you feel yourself loosing balance. Canes can push obstacles out of your way, too. Likewise, walkers provide even more support and stability as you move. Although canes and walkers may be purchased without a physician’s recommendation, consulting with your medical doctor may prove beneficial when discussing fall risk and obtaining these mobility aids.

7. Exercise Regularly

Engaging in exercise can keep your muscles strong enough for maintaining balance when encountering a sudden change which could cause a fall. Leg Exercises allows you to increase your strength and gives you flexibility. Low-impact workouts, such as walking or Tai Chi, will enhance your sense of balance and improve awareness of body positioning. Swimming is also a great exercise for these reasons. Standing on one leg while holding onto a chair (if possible), increases stability in time. Also, you may want to try standing on one foot while performing simple tasks like brushing your teeth. Even performing household tasks, such as sweeping the floor or using the vacuum cleaner, can contribute to your overall physical health and ability to avoid falling.

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Having knowledge about the medications you take can help you limit falls.

Having knowledge about the medications you take can help you limit falls.

Understanding How Medications May Increase Fall Risks

Without question, another contributing factor to falls is inadequate understanding of how medications can affect the body. Over-the-counter drugs as well as prescribed medications for certain conditions can have substantial side-effects like dizziness. Other medications can cause drowsiness or impact awareness. Be sure to learn about the various side-effects of any medications you are taking from your pharmacist or doctor. Below I’ve provided some general categories of medications which you may wish to stop using or lower the dosage to lessen your fall risks after speaking with your doctor.

Types of Medications which Can Increase Fall Risks

  • Sleep Medications
  • Drugs for Urination
  • Pain relievers
  • Medications that lower blood pressure
  • Muscle Relaxants
  • Psychoactive medications
  • Drugs for lowering blood sugar levels


References

Check For Safety A Home Fall Prevention Checklist For Older Adults. Retrieved March 27, 2019, from: https://www.cdc.gov/steadi/pdf/STEADI-Brochure-CheckForSafety-508.pdf

Tips To Prevent Slips and Falls in Your Home - WebMD. Retrieved March 25, 2019, from: https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/guide/prevent-slips-falls#1

This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Comments

Tim Truzy (author) from U.S.A. on December 17, 2019:

Changing weather can contribute to the likelihood of falls. For this reason, I worked with a friend to repair wooden stairs for an elderly woman in my area. Icy surfaces can lead to injuries for nearly anyone who is not prepared. In addition, we added door mats around the door opening on to the porch. My neighbor was grateful, and she said our work made her day. Taking little steps can prevent big falls. Thanks for reading this article. the door

Tim Truzy (author) from U.S.A. on April 15, 2019:

Thanks, Nell. I appreciate your visit and kind comment. Yes, medications can be dangerous. Respectfully, Tim

Nell Rose from England on April 15, 2019:

Hi Tim, yes those meds can have an awful effect on falling. I remember my mother taking something, can't remember what it was now, but she fell down in the living room and nearly went through the window! Great advice as always.

Tim Truzy (author) from U.S.A. on April 07, 2019:

Hello, Jenna,

That's a great point: our pets can be problematic when talking about falls. My little dog, Love, claws me crazily until I pick her up. I've learned to give her toys when I'm going to be moving around, keeping her busy until I can spend time with her. With a cat, that's a whole different story I'm sure. Thanks for the visit and the great comment.

Respectfully,

Tim

Tim Truzy (author) from U.S.A. on April 07, 2019:

Eric, that's the funniest thing I've read today. I hope the gutters were not too much of a challenge, and thanks for reminding me to do mine. Respectfully, Tim

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on April 07, 2019:

Hi Tim. These are great tips for us all to keep in mind. My greatest challenge is to keep my cat from getting in my way on the steps when walking downstairs. She's a diva and I love her, but she wants me to pick her up and carry her at the oddest times. :-)

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on April 06, 2019:

Tim I will hopefully get back to you. I gave up step ladders and go with sawhorse scaffolding for stuff. Oh well - off to the gutters. I but on nice clothes so if they cart me away at least I will have clean underwear.

Tim Truzy (author) from U.S.A. on April 06, 2019:

According to different sources, approximately 3 or more older adults fall every hour in the U.S. Some of these accidents could have been prevented, and that's why I wrote this article. We need to act responsibly and help our older adults around the world because falls happen everywhere. Likewise, older adults can use this information to take care of themselves. Thanks for reading.

Sincerely,

Tim

Tim Truzy (author) from U.S.A. on March 31, 2019:

Hi, Sean,

It's great to have strong writers such as you, Ms. Dora, and Eric, and others who keep the light shining. People don't give much thought to getting older until it happens. I thought this would be useful for everyone who is older and family members who must assist them.

Thank you for your kind and uplifting comment.

Much respect and deepest admiration to a talented and caring writer,

tim

Ioannis Arvanitis from Greece, Almyros on March 31, 2019:

Thoughtful and helpful, as always! My brother, Tim, you are a caring angel! I am proud of you! Thank you for your concern about them who are in need!

Grateful for your golden Heart!

Sean

Tim Truzy (author) from U.S.A. on March 31, 2019:

Thanks, Ms. Dora, I appreciate you dropping by. Yes, throw rugs are dangerous. In fact, I just taped ours down two days ago.

Much respect and deepest admiration,

Tim

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on March 30, 2019:

Tim, I like throw rugs until someone convinced me that they could be dangerous. Thanks for pointing out these possible hazards as well as preventative measures. Very helpful!

Tim Truzy (author) from U.S.A. on March 30, 2019:

Thanks, Pamela. This is such an important topic as our society ages. I appreciate your kind and thoughtful feedback.

Sincerely,

Tim

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on March 30, 2019:

You make great suggestions for preventing falls. I have known a a couple of senior citizens that had surgery due to falls. I have experienced a fall also, but primarily ended up with a bruised ego. I think this is an excellent article. Thank you Tim.

Tim Truzy (author) from U.S.A. on March 30, 2019:

Hi, Eric,

Where do you come up with these brilliant quotes:

"Balance must be a great sport in which to win against the odds." Love it.

Thinking of your kids leaving toys on the floors and you doing the Eric hustle to get around them makes me smile, buddy. But I like what you said about staying active - hiking and climbing will keep you in shape, certainly.

Love your visit and comment, Eric.

May your day be blessed and peaceful.

Sincerely,

Tim

Tim Truzy (author) from U.S.A. on March 30, 2019:

Thank you, RTalloni, I appreciate the visit. Yes, exercising is a must as we age to help prevent falls.

Much respect, Tim

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on March 30, 2019:

So cool Tim and so close to my heart. I am only 61 but my Oncology therapist and nutritionist and Yoga folks worry because of my meds. Most people do not think Ibuprofen is "Chemo Therapy".well obviously by definition they are wrong. Check this out. Rags on floors, shoes in doorways and child's toys left on the floor. We swing Vietnamese Asian. Landmines for a man at risk. Or perhaps God's way to "keep me on my toes" LoL. This is so funny, my two falls of any import were because a 6 then 7 year old walked like my tail and in turning the floor was a better option than 200+ pounds falling on the boy.

I both hike and climb (climb meaning a need to use all fours)

I need a chair to do a "Tree Pose" or on great days not.

Balance must be a great sport in which to win against the odds.

Thanks much for this notice to so many of us. You are an angel of mine.

RTalloni on March 30, 2019:

Good reminders here. Falls are so common, even among younger people, but this type of accident is not something most give enough consideration to. So glad you included #7.

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