Falling is dangerous for anyone, especially seniors. Bones become more brittle as people age and a fall can be seriously debilitating for a senior citizen. Broken hips, arms and legs mend at a slower rate as the body ages. Head injuries can be fatal.
The Center for Disease Control is “taking a stand” on helping seniors prevent falls with programs for seniors and care givers. The program is called STEADI, Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths and Injuries.
You can take action to prevent falling and enjoy an active life as a senior with a few precautions.
STEADI recommends Tai Chi, Yoga and other exercise programs for maintaining and improving legs and core muscle strength. Many senior living communities offer classes in these exercises along with aerobics. Walking, swimming, golf, tennis, bowling and other sports are also highly recommended for seniors.
The objective is to stay in good condition, improve strength, coordination and balance. People want to stay independent as long as possible and enjoy their activities.
Eyes and hearing check-ups
Get an annual eye check-up and make sure you have glasses if needed. Be careful on stairs if you wear bifocal or multi-focal lenses. You want to see any obstacles that might be in your way. Hearing checks are also important so you can hear warnings that someone may call out to you.
It’s easy to trip on steps if you can’t see them. Stairways should have railings and handholds. Steps should be lighted, especially at night.
Special non-slip stair treads can be added to hard surface and carpeted stairways for better traction.
Grab bars are helpful
Install grab bars in bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchens and other areas. They prevent falls.
Showers without borders or curbs are elements of Universal Design that makes bathrooms easily accessible to everyone. Bathroom and kitchen flooring and mats should be non-slip and kept dry.
Keep items you need on low shelves and cabinets so that a chair or step ladder is not needed to reach them. This applies to food, dishes, medications and other items used on a daily basis.
Outdoor pathways and walkways should be free of debris, hoses, wheelbarrows and other gardening equipment. A person may forget to put away outdoor equipment and trip over a hose or bump into the lawn mower.
An uneven pathway with cracks or broken flagstone can be dangerous. Walkways should be dry when possible and free of snow and ice during the winter.
Keep all electrical cords out of the way and against walls. Unplug and remove a cord on a heating pad or other small appliance that has been used temporarily and may be in a pathway.
Rooms should be well lighted.
Carpeting and floor coverings
Carpeting should be tight and tacked down at seams and doorways to avoid tripping.
Area rugs and throw rugs should adhere to the floor. It is also easy to trip over a raised doormat. Hard surface flooring should be the non-slip variety in all rooms where it is used.
Wear comfortable shoes with good support in place of flip-flops and high heels. If you wear slippers, use the type that have tread on the soles instead of a smooth surface.
You should review any previous falls and your medications with doctors. Several prescribed medications may have side effects that cause dizziness and other problems. You should talk to your doctor about your risk of falling.
The National Institute of Health advises seniors to take these preventive measures so they do not have to fear falling.