Fall Prevention, Elderly

Falls are the leading cause of injuries, accidents, and accidental deaths in people over the age of 65. Falling is a real threat to your ability to live on your own.

CAUSES

  • Poor eyesight or poor hearing can make you more likely to fall.

  • Illnesses and physical conditions can affect your strength and balance.

  • Poor lighting, throw rugs and pets in your home can make you more likely to trip or slip.

  • The side effects of some medicines can upset your balance and lead to falling. These include medicines for depression, sleep problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart conditions.

PREVENTION

Be sure your home is as safe as possible. Here are some tips:

  • Wear shoes with non-skid soles (not house slippers).

  • Be sure your home and outside area are well lit.

  • Use night lights throughout your house, including hallways and stairways.

  • Remove clutter and clean up spills on floors and walkways.

  • Remove throw rugs or fasten them to the floor with carpet tape. Tack down carpet edges.

  • Do not place electrical cords across pathways.

  • Install grab bars in your bathtub, shower, and toilet area. Towel bars should not be used as a grab bar.

  • Install handrails on both sides of stairways.

  • Do not climb on stools or stepladders. Get someone else to help with jobs that require climbing.

  • Do not wax your floors at all, or use a non-skid wax.

  • Repair uneven or unsafe sidewalks, walkways or stairs.

  • Keep frequently used items within reach.

  • Be aware of pets so you do not trip.

Get regular check-ups from your doctor, and take good care of yourself:

  • Have your eyes checked every year for vision changes, cataracts, glaucoma, and other eye problems. Wear eyeglasses as directed.

  • Have your hearing checked every 2 years, or anytime you or others think that you cannot hear well. Use hearing aids as directed.

  • See your caregiver if you have foot pain or corns. Sore feet can contribute to falls.

  • Let your caregiver know if a medicine is making you feel dizzy or making you lose your balance.

  • Use a cane, walker, or wheelchair as directed. Use walker or wheelchair brakes when getting in and out.

  • When you get up from bed, sit on the side of the bed for 1 to 2 minutes before you stand up. This will give your blood pressure time to adjust, and you will feel less dizzy.

  • If you need to go to the bathroom often, consider using a bedside commode.

Keep your body in good shape:

  • Get regular exercise, especially walking.

  • Do exercises to strengthen the muscles you use for walking and lifting.

  • Do not smoke.

  • Minimize use of alcohol.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You feel dizzy, weak, or unsteady on your feet.

  • You feel confused.

  • You fall.