Falling is one accident that unfortunately becomes easier and more frequent with age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 25% of adults over the age of 65 fall each year, and one out of five of these falls results in a serious injury.
The impact on your health, mobility and quality of life can be great. However, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of falling and keep you steadier on your feet.
Why falls may happen more frequently as you get older
Your age alone doesn’t mean you’re more likely to fall, but one or more of these conditions can increase the chance, including:
- Lower body weakness
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Difficulty with walking or balance
- Certain medications
- Vision problems
- Foot pain or numbness
- Hazards or obstacles at home
Tips to Reduce Your Fall Risk and Help You Stay Safer at Home
Preventative steps you take today can go a long way in helping you prevent falls in the future. Consider reviewing the safety of your home using the CDC’s handy fall prevention checklist and review their following recommendations to help minimize your risk:
1. Talk to your doctor
Evaluating your risk factors for falling is a great place to start. Make an appointment with your medical team to examine any changes in your physical condition or mobility, and to discuss any specific steps you can take to help reduce your risk.
It’s also a good idea to review your prescriptions and any over-the-counter medications you may take for possible side effects of feeling tired or dizzy, which can increase your risk of falling. Also, discuss your vitamin D levels and whether you should begin taking supplements.
2. Begin strength and balance exercises
There are several ways to make your legs stronger and improve your balance, both of which can decrease your risk of falling. Enrolling in a Tai Chi or yoga class is an effective way to improve your flexibility, balance and muscle strength.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, other exercises that can help with leg strength and balance include the basic sit-to-stand exercise. Beginning in a seated position, slowly stand, sit back down and repeat 10 times. Or, try improving your balance by increasing the time you can stand with feet apart, together, on one foot, and with your eyes closed.
3. Have your eyes and feet checked
Vision problems can make it difficult to judge the surface ahead. Schedule an eye examination at least once a year and keep your prescriptions up to date. If you notice any change between visits, notify your optometrist or ophthalmologist.
If you wear bifocal or progressive lenses, you may want to choose glasses that only correct for distance when spending time outdoors or walking. Special lenses can make features seem closer or farther away, which can increase your risk of falling.
If any portion of your foot is numb or if you are not able to lift your foot high enough to avoid stumbling, you may find yourself at an increased risk of falling. Discuss any symptoms with your doctor.
4. Make your home safer
Take a walk around your home, both inside and out, and look for any obstacles that increase your risk of falling. You may want to consider the following suggestions:
- Add grab bars in your bathroom for added safety.
- Add railings on both sides of stairways to help steady yourself.
- Make sure your home has adequate lighting so you can see all surfaces clearly.
- Remove any throw rugs, cords or other obstacles that may make you trip.
Don’t Let the Fear of Falling Slow You Down
If you do take a tumble, it’s important not to let the fall develop into a fear of falling. Be aware and take any necessary steps to lower your risk, but try not to avoid activities.
After a fall, some people may begin staying at home more often, which can greatly impact their quality of life. Yet, becoming less active can make you weaker and increase your chance of falling, not decrease it.
Instead of avoiding movement, gain an understanding of the common causes of falls in older adults and your personal risk factors, and then take the appropriate steps to address them. It’s important to keep moving. Work on your leg strength and balance. If you think physical therapy might be needed, talk to your doctor.
How an Independent Living Community Can Help
As you age, the risk of an injury-inducing fall increases no matter where you call home. One of the biggest advantages of moving to a senior living community is that they are specifically designed to be age-friendly. You will enjoy wider hallways, easily-accessible bathrooms, and no stairs–features that will reduce your fall risk without requiring you to make costly renovations.
You can also take advantage of on-site exercise classes, fitness equipment, amenities like swimming pools and wellness programs that can help you build up your lower body strength, improve your posture and help increase your sense of balance. It’s so much easier to live an active life safely when your home and community have been designed with you in mind.
For additional information on reducing your fall risk, you can visit the Wellness 101 – Balance and Mobility page on the Eskaton website.
Life at Eskaton Communities
The word Eskaton means “dawn of a new day.” In our communities, we see each day as an opportunity to enhance the lives of our residents. We’ve been serving the Sacramento region and Northern California for over 50 years.
The Eskaton Difference starts with our life-enriching programs and collaborative partnerships. With a national reputation for innovation, we focus on creating communities that provide our residents everything they need for purposeful living. We invite you to visit one of our award-winning communities to discover some of the benefits we offer, such as:
- Private residences
- Delicious and nutritious meals
- Social opportunities to meet and make new friends
- Creative activities and therapies
- Fitness centers and exercise classes
- Housekeeping services
- Transportation services
- 24-hour staffing
- Free Wi-Fi
- And much, much more!
If you’re considering whether senior living could be the best choice for you or your loved one, we’re here to answer any questions that you may have. We also invite you to download our complimentary information, A Family Guide to Funding Senior Living & Services.
To schedule a personalized tour, call us at 1-866-ESKATON (1-866-375-2866) or visit eskaton.org.