According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 1 in 4 older American adults aged 65+ falls each year. But falling is not a normal part of the aging process, and steps can be taken to prevent them. Whether or not an injury occurs, falling can still impact a person’s quality of life. Many aging individuals who take a spill, even without incurring an injury, become fearful of falling again and as a result they tend to limit their activities and social interactions. This will inevitably result in further physical health decline, depression, isolation, and more.
Taking action to prevent falls will help you stay independent in the home longer as well. More information can be found online, but here are three things you can start doing today to reduce the risk of falling:
Staying active is key
Through practical lifestyle routines, staying active and moving your body every day, the number of falls among aging adults can be significantly reduced. Adding simple exercises, just a few days a week, to your routine that improve balance, increase strength, and expand overall muscle flexibility and fitness will greatly reduce the risk of falling.
For example, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) recommends an exercise class involving Yoga or Tai Chi as very effective in preventing falls. Tai Chi improves muscle strength, flexibility, balance, stamina, and much more. Learning the basic moves and adding this to daily living activities greatly reduces risk of falls.
Ensure your home is a safe place
A thorough inspection of the home may turn up some items that need repair, or at least provide things to keep in mind to ensure your home is safe. Here’s a start:
Installing handrails on both sides of a stairwell and removing all loose rugs or other items that are easily tripped over, throughout the home will be a good start. Additionally, the bathroom tends to be a high-risk room in any home, take the steps necessary to reduce the risk for falls by installing grab bars and using a shower chair and rubber bath mat in the shower.
Lighting is something often overlooked. Make sure your home is well lit, especially often-used walkways, to reduce the risk of falling or becoming disoriented. A nightlight in the bathroom, hallway, and bedroom will significantly improve one’s ability to move safely around the home independently.
Other areas to keep in mind is the sidewalk and front steps. Especially in our Minnesota climate, ensuring the walkway and steps leading to the home are shoveled regularly and free of ice is important.
Use safe equipment, including proper footwear
The equipment you or your older loved one uses daily must be in good condition and in working order to ensure safety. Give your home medical equipment a check-up too and make the necessary adjustments or updates if needed. Updating your lift chair or walker will help with safe navigation inside the home. And, with the winter months upon us, an ice tip for a cane and wearing properly fitting footwear is crucial to helping you stay mobile outside the home as well.
Don’t allow the fear of falling keep you from doing the things you love. Sometimes it’s not easy getting older, but following these simple tips will be worth the effort and promotes a safe, active living home environment and lowers the risk of falls. At HealthStar Home Health we help make communities and families stronger by enabling individuals of all ages and abilities to live more independent and fulfilling lives. For additional information on the wide range of homecare services we offer and the communities we serve, visit our website or contact us today.