More than one out of every four older adults fall each year, but less than half tell their doctor. Falling once doubles your chances of falling again. Prevention is key! It is crucial to understand what puts someone at an increased risk for a fall – such as deficiencies with balance, vision problems, medication, and/or lower body weakness – and what we can do to take control and help prevent falls from happening in the first place.
Let’s look at five different ways to help prevent falls.
5 Ways to Help Prevent Falls
- Keep your Mind Sharp. Cognitive impairment has been identified as a risk factor for falls. The brain is just like any other muscle and must be exercised. If you do not challenge your brain on a regular basis, with age can come cognitive decline. With cognitive decline can come confusion and therefore an increased risk for falls. As a preventative measure to keep your mind sharp, aim to engage your brain daily. Try a crossword puzzle, reading a book, learning a new language, or developing a new skill, like learning to cook!
- Complete Strength Training Exercises. Strong muscles and bones help aid in fall prevention. Practicing simple activities, like squatting, standing up from a seated position, and walking, can all help in keeping someone from falling. In addition, exercises that focus on lower body and core strength can help someone with fall prevention and associated injuries.
- Focus on Balance Activities. Falls often occur because someone loses their balance, and balance is a “use it or lose it” skill that declines as we age. Practice! Practice! Practice! Even if it’s just for five minutes, challenge your balance and complete a few exercises, such as standing with eyes closed or balancing on one leg, daily. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider prior to completing any activities that may cause you to feel unsteady.
- Create a Safe Living Space. Make sure your home and living spaces are as safe as they can be. We spend a lot of time in our home – let’s make sure it’s clear of clutter and fall hazards! Remove or repair tripping dangers, such as area rugs, cords, and wires. Increase lighting, especially in areas like hallways and bathrooms. Install non-slip mats, grab bars, and handrails where needed.
- Talk to Your Doctor. Talk with your healthcare provider about evaluating your risk for falling and what you can do to prevent a fall from occurring. Speak with your doctor or pharmacist about the complete list of medications you are taking and if any of them are putting you at an increased risk of a fall. In addition, get a bone density scan or have Vitamin D levels checked, if possible. If you also have low bone density, you can be at an increased risk of a fracture if you do experience a fall. You should also have your eyes and ears checked often, and always wear your glasses and hearing aids.