Each year, 36 million older adults fall, with one out of every five falls resulting in physical trauma, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. Injuries from falls, such as hip fractures, can lead to hospitalizations, surgeries, and nursing home stays. Experiencing a fall or living in fear of falls can reduce your quality of life and separate you from family and friends.
AginginPlace.org provides a freely available, medically reviewed guide on preventing falls, with lifestyle, mobility, and home improvement recommendations to help you avoid falls, maintain independence, and assuage any fears you may have of falling.
Lifestyle modifications can prevent falls.
- Having the proper footwear is essential. Although slippers and socks can be comfortable to wear inside the home, use supportive shoes with non-skidding soles indoors.
- Wear properly fitted clothing. You could trip over oversized, baggy clothing.
- Maintain a well-organized, clutter-free living space. Items in the home, such as cords and surplus furniture, can be a tripping hazard. Decluttering can keep the interior of your living space safer.
- Vision problems can cause falls, so visit your eye doctor regularly.
- Talk to your primary care physician to learn more about any medications or health conditions that may make your gait unsteady.
- When you move about your home, do not rush. Take your time, moving slowly and carefully. Use short steps to avoid slipping.
Staying active and physically fit is an essential element of fall prevention.
- Engage in exercises such as walks, tai chi, and water aerobics regularly to maintain your fitness.
- Practice balance exercises that improve lower body strength and help you stay on your feet three days a week for 10 to 15 minutes at a time.
- Use mobility aids, such as canes and walkers, to help you stay steady.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
As you age, you can adapt your home to your needs.
- Keep your home well-lit. Install lighting into dark areas, such as hallways and stairways. Nightlights can illuminate your home in the dark, allowing you to see your surroundings and avoid tripping.
- Place grab bars and handrails around your home in locations where you might lose your balance, such as bathrooms, hallways, and stairways.
- Keep everyday items within your reach. Avoid storing items in high or hard-to-access places. If you choose to keep things in high places, use a sturdy step ladder with a safety bar or a reach extender — a tool for retrieving out-of-reach objects.
- To stop falls before they happen, look for hazards in your home and remove them.