Updated: Jan 24
More people realize the importance of preventing falls in elderly adults, which is excellent news. The reality is that older adults who fall and sustain an injury often never fully recover their previous mobility levels. That can compromise independence and the ability to age in place. If you are looking to reduce fall risk, these five tips can help.
1. Practice Safe Exercises
There are so many great exercises that older adults can safely do, even when they have concerns about falls. It is usually best to try a couple of different things before settling on one that works best for you. However, here are a few of my suggestions:
Tai Chi: The gentle, flowing motions and focus on weight transfer make this an excellent fall prevention tool for improving balance and building strength.
Otago: This is usually led by a physical therapist. It is a chair-based program that helps build lower body strength and endurance.
Walking: There are very few exercises that beat regular walking for a gentle way to improve strength and cardiovascular fitness. Be sure to use support if you are unsteady.
Silver Sneakers Stability: If you want a bit of a challenge, this lesser-known Silver Sneakers class is an excellent way to feel more stable and confident.
2. Do a Home Safety Evaluation
Sometimes, the conditions in our homes contribute to falls. Even if you are very careful about putting things away and maintaining the house, there may still be trouble spots you don't even think to notice. However, a home evaluation can uncover these potential trouble spots before they cause a problem. In many cases, you can even perform the check yourself.
For a quick exercise, take a look around your home. Do you notice any of these things?
Extension cords or loose wires on the floor
Medications in open containers
Dark hallways (without nightlights)
Areas of clutter
Pets that tend to get underfoot without you noticing
3. Find a Fall Prevention Class
Falls are a major concern among healthcare providers. As a result, there has been a lot of research about what works to help prevent them.
There are now multiple fall prevention programs that have consistently shown to reduce the chances of falls among participants. These are known as evidence-based fall prevention programs.
I can help you find a fall prevention class that fits your needs. I am currently teaching the following two programs:
Tai Chi for Arthritis for Fall Prevention
A Matter of Balance
Please contact me if you have any questions about these programs or you want to register for an upcoming session.
4. Share Concerns With Your Doctor
Your healthcare provider is your partner in staying healthy, fit, and active. That's why it is crucial that you share any concerns about falling with her.
There is a pretty good chance that, at your last visit, your doctor asked if you had taken a fall recently. This is not because she thinks you are unable to live independently. It is because dizziness, lack of coordination, and poor balance can all be signs of other problems. They can also point to problems with vision, hearing, or medications. Be honest when your doctor asks this question so you can find a solution.
5. Take Medications As Prescribed
Speaking of medications, they can be a contributor to falls. Some prescriptions — and even over-the-counter medications — have side effects like dizziness or changes in blood pressure that can affect your balance. If you take forget to take your medications as prescribed, it can also lead to complications.
Your doctor has ordered a specific prescription for a reason. If you have concerns, call the office and talk to a nurse or request an appointment with your doctor. This will give you a chance to share your concerns and have any questions answered. The same thing applies if you think a new medicine is making you feel unstable.
Conquer Your Fear of Falling
Falls are not a natural part of aging., but many people are unsure how to prevent them. If you are ready to improve your balance but don't know where to start, it might be a good idea to have a fall risk assessment done. Contact me today to schedule your free, confidential risk check and get started toward better balance with a safe and appropriate fall prevention program.