Falls are a major concern not only for our aging population, but for the safety of ourselves and our families. Falls are a major concern for you. According a fact sheet by Colorado State University (CSU), one-third of all Americans aged 65 and over will experience a fall this year, and of those 33 percent who experience a fall, almost 70 percent of them will fall again in the next year. According to CSU, “falls are the leading cause of death from injury among people 65 or over,” making them a primary safety concern if you are over 65.
If injury and death wasn’t reason enough to proactively work to avoid falls, then consider it a lifestyle issue: “Many people who fall, even if they are not injured, develop a fear of falling. This fear may cause them to limit their activities, which leads to reduced mobility and loss of physical fitness, and in turn increases their actual risk of falling, ” says the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
To help point you in the right direction we’ve got 12 helpful tips to help you avoid falls:
1. Falls aren’t 100% unavoidable, so “fall proof” your body by monitoring your bone density. Take appropriate supplements, like calcium, to ensure you maintain the strongest bones possible. Get regular exercise to give yourself needed balance, stability and flexibility.
2. Choose rubber-soled, nonslip footwear, like sneakers.
3. Buy the right equipment to avoid slips and falls, like extensions for dusters, handrails for stairs and tubs, and a “reaching” stick for hard-to-get items.
4. Use night lights in the bedroom, bathroom and hallway. If the constant light disrupts your sleep then consider motion-activated lights.
5. Put your phone(s) near your couch and/or bed to keep you from jumping up to answer it.
6. Clear the clutter on your floor to give you clean, clear and unobstructed pathways and sight lines.
7. Check your vision regularly to ensure that you don’t have cataracts or glaucoma. Ensure that you can properly measure depth and see objects both close up and further away.
8. Remove small disruptions in the floor like doorway thresholds and uneven floorboards or tiles. If it’s not possible to remove them, then consider adding a change in color to remind you of the change in elevation.
9. Install ramps if stairs are becoming increasingly more difficult.
10. Remove snow and ice during the winter, or hire someone to do it for you (like the grandkids).
11. Use nonskid stickers or tape on the bottoms of floor rugs.
12. Make sure your shower is as fall-free as possible by doing things like lowering the shower head so you don’t have to reach up for it, using a handheld shower head, adding a wall-mounted soap dispenser in the shower (to avoid having to bend down) and using non-skid products all over the floor and tub to avoid dangerous slippery-when-wet surfaces.
When it comes to avoiding falls in seniors and keeping yourself from falling, the key is prevention–and prevention means de-slicking surfaces, clearing clutter, installing safety devices and maintaining proper lighting. Avoiding slips isn’t difficult; it just takes forethought and planning, for your body and your home.