Each year, one in three elderly adults will take a fall and the risk of falls increases every decade. Falls are the number one reason for emergency room visits because of trauma, and for the elderly, falls can devastate their health since injuries are often severe like traumatic brain injuries or hip fractures. Despite the potential their prevalence, there is much that the elderly can do to prevent falls.
Exercise regularly. The lack of exercise can lead to loss of leg strength, which will increase the chance of falling, and loss of arm strength, which makes breaking the fall more difficult. An exercise program that includes strength and agility, like yoga or Tai Chi will build strength and improve balance.
Maintain vision. Oftentimes poor vision can make moving around much more difficult. Every day movements like judging stairs or negotiating curbs, for example, can lead to falls. Elderly adults should have their vision checked regularly to ensure the proper strength and fit of glasses and contacts so that they are seeing clearly.
Keep track of medications. There are many medications, or medications taken together, that can cause lightheadedness, vision impairment or drowsiness. Either the pharmacist or the doctor can review all of the medications an elderly person is taking to ensure there are no drug interactions that can increase these symptoms and the risk of falling.
Remove hazards. At home or other residences like summer cottages, removing hazards is key since almost half of all falls occur in the home. The home environment should be checked regularly for any tripping hazards like electrical cords in open areas or under rugs, too much accumulated clutter, poorly arranged furniture, beds that are difficult to get in and out of, slippery bed sheets, door sills that are higher than one-half inch, and poorly lit rooms.
Other hazards include rugs that can slip underfoot, the sun's glare, which can be removed by hanging light fabric curtains in rooms with large windows, and taking out foot stools. Rather than using footstools, rearrange cabinets so that every day items are easily within arm's reach.
Add in safety features. An easy prevention tool is the addition of a few safety features, like handrails and brighter or additional lighting on stairways and walkways. One safety feature that is easier than most is to insure that elderly people wear their shoes at home, not slippers or walk around in socks because it increase the risk of slips and falls.
In the bathroom add items like non slip rugs bath mats for the tub and shower are a start. Also, make sure that toiletries are easily within reach, and that there is sufficient light and put in one or two night lights that are left on at all times. And add in grab bars next to and inside of the tub or shower, and remove glass doors for shatter-proof material.