According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year one out of every three adults aged 65 and older experiences a fall. Falling once doubles your chances of falling again. Older adults who have fallen typically report moderate to severe injuries, including deep bruises, head trauma and hip fractures. Fall related injuries may alter mobility and limit independent living, requiring both formal and informal caregiving. Many of these injuries, such as hip fractures, increase the risk of premature death. These facts of falling put into perspective the importance of reducing your risk of falls. Many falls can be prevented by making simple changes in your daily life. This month’s Healthy Living Series will focus on tips to decrease your chances of falling.
How Can You Prevent Falls? First, it is important to take care of your health. Have your eyes and hearing checked frequently for changes. See a healthcare provider if you have foot pain, or if you can’t trim your toenails. Also, consult a healthcare provider right away if you feel weak or unsteady on your feet, if you feel confused, or if you fall. Let a healthcare provider know if a medicine is making you feel dizzy or making you lose your balance. If your healthcare provider wants you to use a cane or a walker, learn how to use it – and then use it consistently. It is also important to get regular exercise, especially walking.
Six out of every 10 falls happen at home, where older adults spend much of their time. Older adults should be encouraged to take steps to “fall proof” their living areas, both inside and outdoors including:
- Wear shoes with nonskid soles
- Be sure your home is well lit so that you can see things you might trip over
- Remove throw rugs or fasten them to the floor with carpet tape
- Don’t put electrical cords across pathways
- Have grab bars put in your bathtub, shower and toilet area
- Have handrails put on both sides of stairways
- Don’t climb on stools and stepladders
How can therapy help? By participating in a balance/fall management program, you will develop and learn skills necessary for safe, functional mobility with reduced risk for falls. You may also reduce the risk for falls and other complications resulting from balance problems, low vision, cognitive changes and decreased sensation. In order to ensure success of an individualized balance/fall management program, therapists work closely with the multi-disciplinary team.
Join Functional Pathways, your NEW Rehab Provider, for a Welcome Reception July 28th at 2:00 pm in the PAC.