Fall Prevention in the Elderly
Learn the risk factors of falling and three tips to prevent falls in seniors.
Most people think that falling happens to other people and is a normal part of aging. Another misconception is that if you limit your activity or stay at home, you won’t fall. People fear that muscle strength and flexibility can’t be regained, or that using a walker or cane will make you more dependent.
These are myths. Most falls are preventable.
To prevent falls in seniors, you must first understand the risk factors. Here’s three things seniors can do to prevent falls:
1. Exercise. Incorporate exercises to improve balance in seniors.
Exercises will increase strength, coordination, balance, flexibility, bone density and endurance in seniors while decreasing the risk of falling and injury. Many people develop a fear of falling which can lead them to limit their activities. However, this decreases movement and physical fitness and actually increases the risk of falling.
If you’ve ever injured yourself because of a fall, you might naturally avoid the same activity. However, this avoidance can cause a change in lifestyle, normal activity, and a weaker, deconditioned body. Decreasing activity can have dangerous consequences and can increase your risk of falls.
Here’s four exercises you can do every day to prevent falls. Also, classes that include balance moves or postures are helpful, such as yoga or Tai Chi.
Iora offers free fitness classes and events that are open to the community. Give our team a call or click the button below to receive a class calendar for your local practice!
2. Prevent slips and trip falls at home.
An easy way to think about fall prevention at home is to make sure your environment is safe.
Sometimes things are outside of our control, but here are some things you can do to remove common trip hazards around the house:
- Remove things from walkways such as cords, wires, boxes, clutter or excess furniture
- Secure rug edges to the floor using tacks, slip-free adhesive strips or double-sided tape
- Install railings or non-slip adhesive strips to stairs
- Use non-slip mats in your shower or bath
- Ensure there are night lights and lights within easy reach
There are other common fall hazards to watch out for in your community as well:
- cracked sidewalks
- curbs or uneven surfaces
- wet or icy surfaces
- other people
- poor lighting
3. Have a conversation with your primary care provider.
Discuss things like your medications or health conditions. Could a medication you take increase your risk of falling? Do you have a chronic condition that affects your eyesight or balance?
Your attitude towards falls also has a big impact. People who are more fearful of falling are actually more likely to fall. Some questions you can ask yourself to learn more about your perception of falling are:
- Do you believe falling should be accepted as a natural part of aging?
- Do you believe reporting a fall to your doctor or family member could result is loss of independence?
- Do you avoid leaving your house due to a fear of falling?
At Iora, we have Behavioral Health Specialists who can help with your answers to these questions. Talk to your primary care provider to create a risk for falls care plan.
Most falls are preventable, so incorporate exercises to improve your balance, make your environment safe to prevent slips and trip falls at home and have a conversation with your primary care provider to reduce your risk and help maintain your independence for as long as possible.