Fall Prevention in Older Adults – Part II

Last week, we talked about the important subject of fall prevention for older adults, along with the importance of exercise to prevent falls. Today we will talk about other things that can be done to help prevent falls. We will also talk about what you should do if you fall.

What can be done to help prevent falls in older adults?
Taking care of your overall health is important as you get older for many reasons. This will lessen your risk of falling. Here are some other tips:
  • Fall Prevention in Older AdultsExercise – As discussed last week, exercise is the number one recommendation for fall prevention. It was worth another mention!
  • Fall-proof your home – Eliminate clutter and loose rugs, make sure electrical cords are out of walking paths, etc. Preventing Falls at Home: Room by Room | National Institute on Aging (nih.gov)
  • Stay up to date on vision and hearing check-ups. Wear those glasses or hearing aids that are recommended by your doctor.
  • Get enough sleep. Being tired or sleepy increases your risk of falling.
  • Understand the possible side effects of your medications. If a medication makes you sleepy or dizzy, be sure to tell your doctor about it and ask if there are alternative medications that might not cause these side effects.
  • Avoid or significantly limit alcohol consumption.
  • Avoid drugs, such as marijuana.
  • Stand up slowly and take your time getting to the bathroom.
  • Use an assistive device, such as a cane, if you need help to feel steady when you walk, and more importantly, learn how to use the device properly. A physical therapist can help you learn to use a cane or walker correctly.
  • Keep your hands free. Use a cross-body bag, a fanny pack, or a backpack, so your hands are free to hold on to railings or help to steady you if necessary.
  • Wear footwear that has nonskid rubber soles. If you need to wear heels, choose low heels. Don’t walk on stairs or floors with socks on or slippers with smooth soles.
  • Tell your doctor if you have fallen since your last visit, even if you didn’t get hurt at all.
What can you do to prepare for a fall?
Although you may not want to think about falling, it is good to be prepared.
Here are some things to think about:
  • Keep a well-charged cordless phone or cell phone with you at all times.
  • Arrange for daily contact with family or friends.
  • Consider an emergency response system, which could be done through a smart watch or with a special bracelet or necklace with a button to call for help.
Another way to prepare for a fall is to keep your bones strong. This could help prevent serious injuries like a hip fracture. Here are some ways to help keep your bones healthy:
  • Stay active, particularly with weight bearing exercises.
  • Quit smoking
  • Get enough calcium and vitamin D
  • Talk with your doctor about screening for osteoporosis (a disease that weakens bones). If you have osteoporosis, talk with your doctor about the right treatment for you.
What should you do if you fall?
A fall can be quite upsetting, but it is important to stay as calm as possible.
  • Take some deep breaths, which can help you get over the initial shock of the fall.
  • Don’t try to get up right away. Stay on the floor or ground for a few minutes and remain still while trying to determine if you are hurt.
  • If you are hurt or cannot get up on your own, ask someone for help or call 911. Try to get into a comfortable position and wait for help to arrive.
  • If you feel like you can get up safely on your own, slowly work your way onto your hands and knees, and crawl to a sturdy chair. Once there, slowly get yourself into a kneeling position with one knee on the floor and one foot flat on the floor. Slowly rise to sit in the chair. Call for help if you feel like you need it anywhere along the way.
Follow this link for more information:
If you have any questions about fall prevention in older adults, please log into your account and send us your question. We are here to help.

Dr. Anita Bennett MD – Health Tip Content Editor

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