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Proceed with Caution: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Falling

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    What do Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton, Beyonce, John Glenn and Billy Graham have in common?  They’ve all taken significant tumbles, some in public.  The fact is that falls are common and can happen to anyone.  Falls among seniors are an all-too-common occurrence and an extremely serious matter. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that falls are the leading cause of injury, disability and death among those 65 and older. Furthermore, many seniors restrict their activity and thus their independence because of their fear of falling.

    Fortunately, falls are not completely inevitable. Relatively easily achieved tips, procedures and safeguards can dramatically reduce the chances of falling.

    One of the single best steps that a senior can take in preventing falls is having a safety assessment done of their home.  ALC Home Health Care occupational and/or physical therapists are able to recognize potential risk factors within an individual’s home, and help devise changes and solutions.

    Additional recommendations for eliminating falls include the following:

    • Exercise regularly to achieve and maintain strength and balance.
    • Have all medications, both over-the-counter and prescriptions reviewed by a professional in order to identify potential side-effects or interactions that may result in dizziness or drowsiness.
    • Keep an eye on your vision.  Make sure that you visit the eye doctor regularly to make sure there aren’t changes in your eyesight or vision loss.
    • Play close attention to medical conditions, especially those that might compromise strength or balance.
    • Lose the obstacles.  Make sure that rugs don’t pose potential tripping hazards and don’t leave items on the floor.  Make sure that furniture is not in your path. Keep electrical cords and wires close to the wall and out of your path.
    • Install and then use handrails on both sides of stairs. Make sure that the railings are firmly fastened.  Install and use grab bars on showers, near toilets and where there are slippery surfaces.
    • Use double-sided tape to attach rugs and mats to the floor to prevent tripping. Make sure to wear skid-resistant shoes, slippers or socks at all times.
    • Mark stairs so that there’s a contrast between them.
    • Use nightlights, especially in and on the way to the bathroom.
    • Replace inadequate lighting so that you can see where you’re going and anything that might be in the way.
    • Try to limit fluid intake right before bed.  Nighttime bathroom trips are responsible for many senior falls.
    • Limit your alcohol intake as it can impair your balance.
    • When you stand from a sitting position, do so slowly.  Standing up too quickly can make you feel unsteady.
    • If you need a walker or cane, use one.  Make sure that it is the right size for you.
    • Move commonly used items to face level or below in order to eliminate the necessity of using step ladders or stools.
    • Don’t try to navigate snow or ice….ask for help!
    • Most importantly—be aware of what activities, situations or locations put you at risk…and then reduce your exposure.