Health and Fitness
September 15, 2011
Contact: Diana Yee, 510-271-6671
How Seniors and Baby Boomers Can Avoid Slips, Trips and Falls
Falls Prevention Awareness Week is September 18–24
(Falls Prevention Awareness Day is September 23 or the first day of fall)
Aging brings its own rewards, among them — watching one’s children grow up and enjoying retirement. To ensure that older adults continue to enjoy life, it’s important that they learn how to avoid falling and injuring themselves. And, there’s no better time to learn than during Falls Prevention Awareness Week.
Falls are one of the main causes of injury, disability — even death — among older adults. The CDC points out that one of three adults, age 65 and older, falls each year. Equally disturbing, more than 90 percent of hip fractures result from falling, and one out of five hip fracture patients dies within a year of injury. While these statistics are dismal, some good news follows: Falls are preventable. Adapting a few simple precautions at home can go a long way to help older adults avoid falls and serious injuries.
Basic tips include this important one: Wear shoes with good support around the house, rather than walking barefoot.
“Walking without shoes or wearing loose shoes can cause a person to lose his or her balance and fall,” says Arthur Hayward, MD, geriatrician and clinical lead physician for elder care with Kaiser Permanente’s Care Management Institute. Dr. Hayward also recommends enrolling in a Tai Chi class. “Studies have shown that Tai Chi helps older adults improve strength and balance. Participants experience fewer falls and fall-related injuries.”
Below are more ways to help older adults live long, healthy, and independent lives.
Make your home safe
- Reduce tripping hazards, such as throw rugs, raised doorway thresholds, or loose carpet.
- Keep paths clear of electrical cords and clutter.
- Add grab bars where necessary — in hallways, stairways and bathtubs.
- Add a rubber bath mat in the shower or tub.
- Improve lighting throughout the house and use night lights in hallways and bathrooms.
- Keep a phone and flashlight by the bed.
Take care of yourself
- Exercise regularly to increase leg strength and improve balance. Tai Chi, walking and swimming are fun and engaging options.
- Check your vision and hearing annually, or when noticeable change occurs.
- If you are dizzy and weak, enlist someone’s help with getting from the bed or the bath tub.
- Learn about your current medicines
- Educate yourself about the interactions of your medication. Sometimes combinations of medicines can cause dizziness or sleepiness. Either can lead to a fall.
By following these precautions and making a few simple adjustments to the home, seniors can reduce the high number of accidental falls each year and continue to live independent and happy lives.