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5 Tips to Prevent Senior Falls

How to Prevent Senior Falls

Every second of every day, a senior, or someone age 65 or older, suffers a fall in the United States. This statistic means that falls are the leading cause of injury or injury related death for this age group. One in four aging Americans will fall each year, so it’s important to prevent these falls as much as you can. There are a few things seniors can do to help prevent falls and keep them independent longer, including exercise, consulting a doctor, and making your home a senior-safe space.

Stay Active

Staying active as a senior is extremely important, but the exercise program has to be right for you. Regular exercise can improve your muscles and make you stronger, all while keeping your joints, tendons, and ligaments flexible. While you probably shouldn’t head out on a run around the block, there are a few types of exercise you can participate in, such as:

  • Water Aerobics
  • Chair Yoga
  • Walking, both outside and on a treadmill
  • Body Weight Workouts
  • Simple Dumbbell Strength Training

Keeping a solid exercise routine will not only help you stay active, but give you more independence and energy overall. Aging adults who participate in consistent physical activity are shown to be less dependent on others and more likely to be self-sufficient.  However, before you start a new exercise routine, you should consult your doctor to verify that it won’t negatively affect your health. 

Stand Up Slowly

When standing up, particularly after a night’s sleep, seniors can experience dizzy spells and possible fainting. When you stand up, the blood vessels respond by narrowing to prevent a significant fall in blood pressure. When the vessels do not constrict, your blood pressure will drop and cause the phenomenon known as Orthostatic Hypotension. While everyone will probably experience a mild form of Orthostatic Hypotension at some point in their life, some may be more susceptible to it, such as:

  • Those who are on prolonged bed rest
  • Those who take certain medications, such as diuretics or high blood pressure medication
  • Anemics and diabetics
  • Those with heart problems, such as heart arrhythmia, congestive heart failure and aortic stenosis

 Regardless of if you’ve experienced dizziness when standing up previously, it’s important to do so slowly to alleviate any potential of a fall happening. If you do have concerns about dizziness, talk to your doctor about controlling it. 

Make Their Home Senior-Friendly

There are many ways to make your aging family member’s home easier to navigate. This can include:

  • Installing bathroom safety features such as a grab bar or no-step shower
  • Adding accessibility features like ramps, chairlifts, and wider doorways
  • Having an emergency response system such as a Life Alert®
  • Hook up smart home devices like Amazon Alexa or Google Home for voice-activated assistance
  • Improve both interior and exterior lighting

While it may seem like a daunting task, making a home senior friendly is a sure way to help prevent falls. 

Keep Up With Vision and Hearing Tests

You may not even notice small changes in your vision and hearing, but even small changes can make you more susceptible to falls. A few ways to combat this include:

  • keeping up with your annual checkups
  • when you do get new glasses, take a little extra time to get used to them and always wear them when you need to
  • if you wear hearing aids, make sure your aid fits properly and wear it consistently
  • wear sunglasses outside
  • keep walkways in your home well-lit

Use Assistive Devices If Needed

If you feel unstable when walking around, don’t hesitate to use assistive devices if needed, such as a cane or walker. Make sure your assistive device is the right side for you and that everything, such as the wheels, work smoothly. In addition to canes and walkers, wear non-skid, rubber-soled shoes that will fully support your feet as extra precaution. Try to avoid walkers around in socks or other slippery footwear, as this can increase your chances of a fall. 

 

If you’re concerned about an elderly family member or neighbor’s chances of falling, try to implement these tips into their everyday routine. Just a simple lifestyle addition or change can be the difference between preventing a fall and experiencing serious injury or death.

Posted by Carrie Atkins at 3:00 PM

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