Falls are a serious health problem for people over the age of 65, with one in four seniors falling each year. Falls can seem like a natural side effect of the impaired vision, lessened strength and poor balance that can come with age, but they should not be considered a normal consequence of aging.
Falls can also be a sign of more pressing health issues, and they should be taken very seriously. Every 20 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall in the United States, and many more are injured. The good news is that there are changes you can make to reduce your risk of falling and maintain your independence at home. First, you need to assess your own condition.
Are You at Risk for Falls?
- Are you 65 years or older?
- Are you unsteady or unsure on your feet?
- Are you ever dizzy, lightheaded or off-balance?
- Are you taking medications that cause tiredness, fatigue or dizziness?
- Have you ever had a diagnosis of stroke, diabetes or neurological condition?
- Do you have vision problems or hearing loss?
- Do you have neuropathy (numbness or weakness in the hands or feet)?
- Have you fallen before?
- Are you worried you might fall?
If you answered yes to two or more of these questions, you may be at risk. Use this safety checklist to learn steps you can take to protect yourself at home.
Remove Obstacles and Dangers
- Clear pathways between high traffic areas, such as bedroom to bathroom
- Remove items on the floor that you may trip over
- Make sure rugs and mats are skid-proof and secured, with edges flush with the floor
Improve Lighting in the Home
- Install brighter bulbs and additional lighting
- Illuminate entryways, outdoor walkways and other shadowy areas
Ensure Safety and Fit
- Choose shoes that are easy to walk in, supportive, low-heeled, closed back and non-slip
- If you use a cane or walker, have it properly fitted by a healthcare professional
Prepare for Emergencies
- Make sure phones are easy to reach
- Arrange to have daily contact with a family member or friend
- Place emergency and family contact numbers next to the phone
Use Programs Available to Keep You Safe at Home
- Ask your doctor if home health services that offer physical or occupational therapy, medication management and education about your condition could help you be more confident performing daily activities without falling.
Remember, if you do experience a fall, do not hesitate to call 911 or your physician. Even if you think you have not broken a bone, falls can have other serious consequences, and you should see your doctor to be evaluated.
Kindred at Home offers fall prevention programs designed just for you in the comfort of home. To learn more about these programs, call 1.866.CARE.KAH to speak with a Registered Nurse 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We can help walk you through care options in your area and determine if services might be right for you.