Stay on Your Feet: 12 Tips for How to Prevent Falls in Seniors
Your body is an amazing machine that’s helped you to physically experience and enjoy your life. Thanks to it, you’ve traveled, danced and maybe even run a marathon. You’ve also worked hard, perhaps raised a family and achieved your dreams. But as you age, your body naturally gets tired and loses some of its strength.
Unfortunately, loss of strength can result in reduced coordination, balance and physical stamina and can lead to falls as you get older. A fall could result in serious injury – or to an earlier death. Plus, older adults who have fallen once are more likely to do so again. The risk is understandably concerning. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to significantly reduce your chance of falling – allowing you to maintain your independence, mobility and good health.
Without further ado, here are tips to keep you steady on your feet and active, courtesy of Ageility’s Fall Prevention Program specialists. For best results, partner with your family and friends to implement these strategies.
12 Tips to Help Seniors Avoid Falling
1. Clear the path.
Many falls occur due to tripping over something. So, pick up clutter, tuck cords out of the way and get rid of throw rugs. Then you can be confident that your path is free of tripping hazards.
2. Light the way.
It’s easy to stumble in the dark. To avoid falling at night (and stubbing your toe!), plug in night lights to illuminate your path. Make sure you have a well-lit route to the bathroom – and exits in case of emergency.
3. Check your seats.
Believe it or not, you can fall while trying to sit down. To prevent that from happening, make sure your toilet and chairs are high enough where you can slide onto them – not drop onto them. Plus, avoid chairs with wheels as they can roll out from underneath you.
4. Shower safely.
The bathtub can get very slippery. To stay steady on your feet, securely install easy-to-reach grab bars and use them when you’re climbing in and out of the shower. Then, place a non-slip bathmath just outside of the tub.
5. Climb stairs confidently.
If you’re a little unsteady, stairs can be a major fall hazard. But, if you install – and grab onto – secure railings, you can climb that flight confidently. Don’t forget to take your time – there’s no need to rush!
6. Ditch that dizziness.
Feeling dizzy throws off your balance and could lead to a fall. If you feel dizzy when standing, wait a moment for it to pass before moving. Be sure to talk to your doctor as some of your medication may cause dizziness. Plus, try to stay well-hydrated – especially if you’re outside in the heat.
7. Get moving.
Your chances of falling decrease if you maintain your physical strength. That means you need to get – and stay – moving. Gentle exercise, such as walking or lifting light weights regularly, should do the trick. If exercise isn’t something you normally enjoy, put on your favorite music or ask a friend to join you.
8. Traverse the terrain.
Soft or uneven terrain may cause you to be unsteady on your feet. To navigate it safely, take your time and walk carefully. If you need assistance, don’t feel embarrassed to ask for someone’s arm for extra support.
9. Keep essential things handy.
If you rush across the room to answer a ringing phone or answer a knock at the door, you could trip and fall. To stop this from happening, keep the phone on you or near you at all times. Also, if you use a walker or cane, make sure it’s always within reach. That way, you never have to take a step without it.
10. Track your habits.
Getting up quickly to use the bathroom could cause you to get dizzy or fall. To avoid the potentially dangerous scramble, track your habits. If you always go to the bathroom at the same times every day, you can plan ahead – and get moving before the need becomes urgent.
11. Keep those ankles limber.
Ankle flexibility and strength are key to preventing falls. When you’re sitting in your chair, move your ankles in circles. Then, pump your feet up and down. The best part? You can do these basic exercises while watching your favorite television programs.
12. Beef up those leg muscles.
Strong legs mean better balance which means fewer falls. To beef up those leg muscles, sit on a comfortable chair, scoot up to the edge, and slowly stand up. Hold the position for a moment, and then slowly ease back onto the chair. Repeat the process five times. Try to avoid using your hands unless you need to use them for support.
Another concern: If your knees buckle, you could fall. To lessen your chance of that happening, incorporate standing knee bends into your exercise routine. Start by standing in front of a table, with both hands placed on the edge. Make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart. Then, squat halfway, bending your knees. Your knees should go directly over your toes. When your heel starts to lift, straighten your legs. Repeat the exercise five times.
Bonus tip: Enlist family support.
Your family and friends can be a great support system. They want you to avoid falls just as much as you do. To make sure they’re on the same page as you, be sure to communicate your needs. Ask them to give you more time to answer the door when they visit. Tell them not to rush when you’re out together. They’ll understand and be grateful for the reminders.
Are you worried about you or a loved one falling? Contact Ageility at email@example.com to see how we can help!