Keeping Seniors Safe by Preventing Falls

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Unfortunately, as we get older, activities we once took for granted become more difficult. Medications, physical changes, and a lack of physical activity can increase a person’s risk of falling. A fall can be devastating, and, although we can’t stop the natural aging process, below are five easy measures that should be taken for fall prevention.

5. Talk to your Doctor:

First and foremost, talk with your healthcare provider. Discuss with your doctor any health conditions you may have that could cause you to fall. This includes some ear and eye conditions, medication side effects, chronic conditions, or decreased strength. Be prepared to provide details on prescription and over-the-counter medications you are taking, as well as any incidents where you’ve experienced a near fall or tumble. Are you able to walk without dizziness or pain in your joints? Do you feel any shortness of breath or numbness in your extremities? Thorough details can give your doctor some insight on how to develop a strategy for fall prevention.

4. Keep a Physical Routine:

It is imperative to maintain a physical routine. Keeping yourself moving and active will help keep reflexes sharp. When consulting your doctor, talk about what kind of physical activity is best for you. Physical activity could mean anything from swimming to walking around your neighborhood. There’s no need for seniors to exert themselves to the point of soreness. Along with keeping up with physical activity, wearing shoes that are comfortable and easy to walk in is very important. High heels, loose sandals, or shoes with little tread can cause a fall when you are out and about. Wear the proper size shoes for your feet. Lace-up shoes with a non-skid sole are your best bet if you want to avoid a slip or fall.

3. Remove Clutter:

Hazardous furniture or clutter around the home can cause a fall if not taken care of. Furniture that is close to the ground, like a coffee table or a plant stand, can cause a person to trip. Items such as boxes, electrical cords, or phone cords should be removed from areas of high foot traffic. Area rugs and carpets that are not secured to the ground should be taped down to prevent trips. Items such as dishes or food should be shelved in easy-to-reach places in the kitchen. Straining to reach an item can cause a senior to become dizzy or disoriented.

2. Make sure your Home Is Well Lit:

One of the easiest fall prevention measures a person can take is to make the home brighter with easy-to-access lights and lamps. Be sure that light switches aren’t too high or too low; straining to turn on a light can increase the risk of a fall. Use nightlights in hallways, the bathroom, and the bedroom in case you need to get up in the middle of the night. Illuminated light switches can make access in the dark easier. Be sure there are lights near any staircase or step, with reflective tape on steps to increase visibility. Also, handrails on staircases are a must.

1. Fall Proof the Bathroom:

A lot of slips and falls happen in the bathroom. Equip your shower with grip mats in the tub to prevent slips in the shower. Grab bars to get in and out of the shower are extremely useful, and some people even eliminate their tub and turn it into a walk-in shower. Outside of the shower, make sure the towel or bath mat where you dry your feet does not slip on the tile. A raised toilet seat or a seat with armrests is also a good idea. If you plan on sitting in the shower, a shower seat and a handheld showerhead are essential.

Again, talk to your doctor, because they may take your prevention plan a little further and request that you use a cane or walker, but the suggestions in this article are a good place to start. Likewise, if you or a loved one is nervous at all, a medical alert is a great idea to add some extra security around the home.

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Max Gottlieb is the content manager of Senior Planning in Phoenix, Arizona. Senior Planning is a completely free service, providing assistance to seniors and the disabled who need help finding and arranging care services, applying for state and federal benefits, or relocating to a care home.
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