National Safety Month
Did you know that falling can lead to broken bones, trouble getting around, and other health problems – especially if you are age 65 or older.
As people age, poor balance and weak muscles can lead to falls and fractures. Most falls happen when older adults are doing everyday activities, like walking. Not only do these fractures and broken bones cause pain and disability they can also have an impact on your ability to do everyday activities without help, like cooking a meal or taking a shower. Sometimes vision problems or medical conditions such as diabetes which can reduce feeling in the feet, or a stroke which can affect your balance, will make a fall more likely.
Some conditions that can lead to a fall include: having fallen in the past year; disease; trouble walking; getting up from a chair; or stepping up onto a curb; medications—especially medicines to help you relax or sleep or vision problems such as cataracts or glaucoma
Use this checklist to find out if you are at risk for falling.
Did you know that half of all falls happen inside the home?
It may be time to do a walk through to find the possible danger areas in your home.
It may not seem like much, but there are quite a few things you can do to make your home safer for yourself, family and guests.
- Have railings put on both sides of all stairs inside and outside of your home.
- Have grab bars put inside and outside your bathtub or shower and next to the toilet.
- Use non-slip mats in the bathtub or shower.
- Remove small rugs or use double-sided tape to keep rugs from slipping.
- Use bright lights throughout your home, especially on the stairs.
- Keep stairs and places where you walk clear of clutter. Pick up or move things you can trip over, like cords, papers, shoes, or books.
- Keep kitchen items you use often in easy-to-reach cabinets or shelves.
Improve your balance, increase your safety
Exercises that improve your balance can help prevent falls. For example, tai chi (“tie chee”) is a mind-body exercise that can help with balance. Check with your local community or senior center for physical activity classes that can help your balance.
Do strengthening activities at least two days a week to make your legs stronger. These include lifting weights or using resistance bands (long, stretchy rubber strips).
There’s a lot your doctor can do to help keep you safe from falls. If you are worried about falling, talk to your doctor or nurse about how balance exercises and physical therapy can help. Review all medicines with your doctor or pharmacist. Some medicines can make you dizzy or sleepy and cause you to fall. Get your vision checked by an eye doctor every 1 to 2 years. Update your glasses or contact lenses when your vision changes. Make your home safer. For example, add grab bars inside and outside your bathtub or shower – and put railings on both sides of stairs.