Preventing Falls

Falls among seniors are very common, increasing their risk for broken bones, head injuries and other bodily trauma. Studies show that the risk of falling increases with age, and that two-thirds of people who experience a fall are highly likely to suffer more falls within a six-month period.

To help in preventing falls, making the senior’s home a safe place is primary. Consider the following:

Ways to Prevent Falls

1. Remove all things that could be easily tripped over. Walk through the house and do a visual assessment for these common causes of falls:

- Throw rugs, along with slippery rugs in kitchens and baths.
- Anything cluttering hallways such as boxes or other storage containers.
- Electric cords including extension cords.
- Small foot stools, coffee tables or magazine racks that block walkways.
- Loose or damaged carpeting or other flooring that needs repair.
- Highly polished wood or laminate floors.

2. Assess the lighting in the house. Visit the home of an elderly loved one in the evening to get an actual view of their lighting during the darkest time of the day. Common dark spots are hallways and bathrooms. Use night lights. Be sure there are plenty of table lamps or ceiling lights easily accessible.

3. Exercise helps to maintain balance and stamina. Before beginning an exercise program, talk with the senior’s physician to get his input and direction. He may prescribe physical therapy which typically would be covered by Medicare or other insurance.

4. Have the senior’s vision checked. Many falls take place because of vision changes, and something as simple as a change in their eyeglass prescription is all that is needed.

5. Consider assisted devices for walking and even bathing, which includes canes, walkers, and bath benches. Before using one of these, talk with the senior’s doctor for his input and direction. Canes and walkers should be “sized” to fit the user, and they should receive instruction for proper use. If the physician orders such a device, they are generally covered by Medicare or other insurance.

6. Review the senior’s medications (including over-the-counter and supplement products) with a physician or pharmacist. It may be determined that some of their medications cause dizziness, or that there are duplication’s or contradictions among their prescriptions.

7. Safety monitoring devices can help in an emergency. There are a variety of medical-alert products which can be worn around the neck or wrist. When a person falls and cannot get up, they push a button on the device and emergency personnel are contacted or the system can detect if a fall has occurred and will contact help automatically.