Falls are a normal part of the aging process, and most falls can be prevented. However, a third of people age 65 and older will fall each year. Falling is the leading cause of injuries among seniors and can threaten a person’s independence and active lifestyle.
Tips for preventing falls:
- Patients can improve balance and strength with regular exercise. Exercises such as Yoga or Tai Chi help improve balance.
- Decrease tripping hazards—keep cords, shoes, and boxes out of walkways. Avoid throw rugs or use nonskid mats.
- Review and identify medications that may cause dizziness or drowsiness in patients.
- Suggest grab bars in the tub or shower and toilet. Installing railings on both sides of stairs may be helpful.
- Patients should get their eyes checked at least once a year.
- Suggest they wait a few minutes after sitting or standing to avoid becoming lightheaded or lose their balance.
- Patients can use a walker or cane if they feel unsteady.
- Recommend increased lighting throughout their house (plug in nightlights can be helpful in hallways or bathrooms).
People who have experienced falls may develop a fear of falling. Because of the fear of falling they may start limiting their activity, which leads to the worsening of muscle weakness and can increase chances for falling. Encourage an active lifestyle for patients who are able, but for those who are more prone to falls, many falls can be prevented by following these simple tips.