Every second of every day, an older adult falls. More than one out of four people over the age of 65 fall every year, and an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall every 11 seconds. Falls have become the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries among older adults, and, according to the CDC, falls among older adults are becoming increasingly prevalent.
Older adults can take action to reduce their risk of falling. Seniors who are at risk of falling or have fallen before should speak with their doctor about medication side effects, and regularly check their hearing and vision. Seniors can further reduce their risk of falling through strength and training exercises, and the use of a cane or walker for stability.
There are also many ways to reduce the risk of falling in the home – about 1/3 of falls occur in the home. The National Institute on Aging offers the following tips to reduce the risk of falling in your home:
- Place handrails on both sides of the stairs, and make sure they are tightly fastened. If you must carry something while going up or down the stairs, hold it with one hand and use the handrail with the other so you can clearly see the steps.
- Ensure there is adequate lighting throughout the home, especially around high-risk areas like stairs, doorways and bathrooms. Replace bulbs frequently and install new lighting fixtures if needed.
- Tidy up. Don’t leave clutter, laundry, trash or shoes on the floor as these are easy to forget and trip over.
- Keep electrical cords near walls and away from walking paths.
- Avoid using throw rugs, mats and small area rugs that are not securely fastened to the ground.
- Place nightlights throughout the home and keep a flashlight on the nightstand in the event you need to get up in the middle of the night.
- Keep frequently used pots, pans, and kitchen utensils in a place where they are easy to reach.
- Don’t stand on a chair or table to reach something that’s too high — use a “reach stick” instead or ask for help. Reach sticks are special grabbing tools that you can buy at many hardware or medical-supply stores.
- Especially if you live alone, invest in a medical alarm system such as a bracelet, necklace or phone app to alert 911 immediately in the event of a fall emergency.
A qualified senior care professional can also help reduce the risk of falls by providing a home safety assessment.
This content is part of a partnership between Source of the Spring and Seniors Helping Seniors® home care services to promote wellness and healthy aging throughout the local community. Seniors Helping Seniors® home care provides services to support seniors so that they can maintain their independence and remain in their homes. For more information visit shsbethesda.com. Graphic: © elenabsl – stock.adobe.com