Senior adults are at a high risk for falling as their bodies are aging. Falls are actually the leading cause of unintentional injury related death. Falls are the number one trauma at St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center for all ages, so it is really important that senior adults take action to help prevent falls.
Factors Leading to Falls
As you age, your vision changes. You may lose your central or peripheral vision, have cataracts or wear bifocals that make it difficult to see your feet.
You also may take various medications. Many medications have side effects, especially prescriptions like anxiety medicine, pain medicine, sleep medicine, blood pressure medicine – all of these things have side effects such as drowsiness or dizziness that can increase your risk of a fall. Be sure to talk to your primary care physician about the side effects of your medications.
Seniors frequently develop osteoporosis or fragile bones with aging. It is important to be sure that you intake plenty of Calcium and Vitamin D. You can also talk to your primary care physician about your supplement regimen.
How can I prevent a fall?
It is important to see your primary care physician every year. Talk to them about your concerns for falling, and be sure that you have been tested for osteoporosis, Vitamin D and calcium levels. Have your vision checked every single year. Sometimes when our vision changes, we adapt, and we do not necessarily realize it is happening. A vision specialist can let you know if you are developing something like glaucoma or cataracts that needs to be addressed.
In order to better your balance and footing, participate in strength and balance exercises. You can enroll in a gym, take a class or even do exercises at home. Gaining strength and balance will help prevent a fall.
You can also fall proof your home. It is a good idea to remove rugs altogether. If you cannot remove them, tape down the edges and corners. They tend to come up and become a tripping hazard. If you wear socks, they need to be non-slip socks or shoes with a good tread on the bottom so you do not slip. Additionally, look at putting night lights throughout your home. Some of them come on automatically with movement. That way, you have increased visualization at night when you may be getting up to use the bathroom – a common time for falls. Finally, install support throughout your home. In places like your bathroom, add grab bars or use over the commode seats with handles. Another example is rails along your stairway. You might even need to add something to your outside patio, like non-skid tape or rails, so that you don’t fall off your patio.
Where can I go for more information?
At St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center, we offer a seven week fall prevention course called Stepping On, which is recommended by the CDC as an evidence-based program that is shown to decrease the risk of falls. You can call at 512.341.6612 for more information on our next class offered to our community. You can also visit online the National Council on Aging or the CDC for adult fall prevention tips.