5 Easy Fall Prevention Tips
As summer winds down, many of us are eager to welcome fall—leaves are changing colors, the weather starts to cool and some of our favorite comfort foods are back in season. Another thing to celebrate at the start of fall is National Fall Prevention Day on September 23. This awareness initiative was established to draw attention to common risk factors for falling and highlight different ways of managing and preventing falls altogether.
Falls are the leading cause of injury and hospitalization for adults over 65 in the U.S. According to the National Council for Aging Care, one in four older adults falls each year and about 30 to 50 percent are due to environmental factors, like poor lighting or slippery floors. These incidents can have serious consequences physically and mentally—injuries from falls can limit mobility and overall independence. Even those who don’t experience a fall can be psychologically affected by the fear of falling; up to 50 percent of people who fear falling report limiting or excluding several social and physical activities as a result.
Fortunately, there are several easy ways to reduce fall risk and prevent unnecessary falls altogether.
Declutter with Safety and Accessibility in Mind
Make your home easier to navigate by clearing walkways of fall hazards, like excess furniture and décor. Bulky boxes, shelves of tchotchkes and area rugs on hardwood floors can all increase your likelihood of slipping or tripping. Move these items into storage or another room, ideally a place where you’re less likely to run into them. Take a look at our recent blog with tips to effectively declutter.
Keep Important Items Within Reach
Where do you keep everyday items, like your keys, pocketbook and glasses? If you tend to leave these things in hard-to-reach places, consider changing your routine so they’re always on-hand. The same goes for important documents you may only need a few times a year—rather than storing these on a top shelf or burying them in the back of a closet, keep them in a more accessible spot or scan them into your computer so you can avoid using a step stool every time you need to pull them out.
Take Care of Your Feet
Foot or ankle pain that makes it uncomfortable to stand or walk is often very treatable with simple exercises or supportive footwear. A good deal of balance depends on the strength and stability of our feet and ankles, so if you’re feeling wobbly, experiencing sharp pain or even noticing unusual cramping, talk to a specialist about ways you can address this discomfort and reduce your overall fall risk.
Rebuild Balance with Strength and Flexibility
Staying active and incorporating fitness into your routine can improve balance and help prevent falls. As we age, our bodies start to lose muscle mass, which can limit mobility and make everyday activities more tiring. A simple exercise regimen can combat these problems and help stability. If balance is a specific concern, try attending a balance class to get specific techniques designed for fall prevention.
Manage Your Medications
Some fall risk can be attributed to side effects or interactions from certain medications. If you’re taking supplements that can cause dizziness, shortness of breath or sudden drops in blood pressure, talk to your prescriber about managing fall risk. A common intervention is to reduce the number of prescriptions you take, but this should always be done under a doctor’s supervision.
It’s important to know that falling is not inevitable as you age. In most cases, there are several factors that can lead to taking a tumble, whether you simply miss a step or feel lightheaded on a hot day. Take the time to evaluate fall risk and discuss strategies with a physician—you might be surprised by how even the smallest adjustments in your routine can make a difference.