Every year, millions of older adults suffer serious injuries as the result of a fall. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that one in four adults over age 65 will suffer a fall every year, and some 2.8 million will require medical attention at an emergency room in hospitals across the country. Falls are especially hazardous for older adults who live alone, but they can be prevented with a few smart practices.
If you're worried about senior fall safety, here's what you can do to make sure that you or a loved one is better protected against falls in the home.
- Talk with a doctor. The best way to prevent falls is to keep your health in top shape and to recognize the warning signs. Some 65% of adults age 60 and over experience bouts of dizziness or loss of balance, sometimes very frequently. This could be due to vision problems or ear disorders, or it may be exacerbated by certain medications. Be frank with your physician about your symptoms and concerns.
- Fall-proof your home. Adding anti-slip mats in the bathroom and kitchen can help prevent slick wet spots that can pose a fall hazard. Also consider taping down the corners of area rugs and using additional light on staircases to prevent trips.
- Keep moving. With approval from your doctor, regular exercise can be a great way to strengthen muscles and improve balance. Low-impact sports such as Tai Chi are great for older adults with limited mobility. Make sure that you also wear sensible, comfortable shoes, even for getting around the house. This will help prevent the risk of foot injuries that could make you more susceptible to falls.
While there's no way to guarantee that falls won't happen, there are ways to make them less likely. Still, it's also important to know what to do in the event of a fall. For minor injuries or sprains, you can likely seek medical help from an urgent care clinic. For more serious injuries, such as a fractured hip or head trauma, get to an emergency room in hospital for a full examination and treatment. The more you know about the risks of seniors and falls, the better you can protect yourself and your loved ones at home.