Elder Fall Prevention

Preventing a fall MUST be YOUR #1 priority to age safely at home.

A new bruise. Did you fall? NO! I tripped!
(Trip is defined as a stumble when an object obstructs the pathway)

A bump. Did you fall? NO! I slipped
(Slip is defined as occurring when the foot slides from underneath a person)

A call for the ambulance. Did you fall? Yes! I fell and I’m hurt! Please hurry!
(A fall is defined as an unintentional change in the body position resulting in contact with the ground or with another lower level such as a chair or couch or bed)

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention
95% of hip fractures are caused by falling
40% of hip fractures require nursing home admissions

Risks for Falling and What to Do About Them

Use of tranquilizers or sleeping pills (aka: benzodiazepines)

  • speak with your doctor or pharmacist about your medication and any possible side effects such as dizziness or drowsiness

Visual impairment   

  • visit your eye doctor every year
  • bifocal or progressive lenses can give you a “swimming” feeling and effect depth perception as you walk- think about getting one pair for reading and one for walking around
  • install brighter lights throughout your home, in hallways and at the top of stairway

Urinary incontinence

  • speak to your doctor about sudden urges to go to the bathroom or if you are unable to get to the bathroom in time
  • ask your doctor if you can change when you take medications so you are less likely to need to go the bathroom during the night (ex: diuretics-also known as fluid or water pills)

Functional limitations

  • wear properly fitted shoes inside and outside (& tie your shoe laces)
  • install handrails on all stairways
  • install grab bars in the bathroom
  • use a raised toilet seat and shower bench
  • you look better using a cane or walker at home or in the community than falling down and going into a nursing home

Other Risk Factors
Lack of exercise leads to decreased muscle strength

  • Regularly do strength and balance exercises such as walk, dance, garden, bicycle (check with your doctor first)

Poor nutrition and dehydration can leave you weak with little energy

  • Eat healthy food from all of the food groups and drink plenty of water

Drinking alcohol can cause unsteadiness and slow reaction time as well as interact with medications

  • Avoid regular &/or excessive alcohol intake

Pets

  • Put a bell on their collar so you know where they are to avoid tripping over them
  • Train them not to jump or pull on you
  • Take them for a walk everyday-it’s good for both of you!

Why Should I Care?

The more often an elder falls the more likely they are to fall again. The fear of falling again can cause an elder to decrease daily activities.

Unfortunately, the saying “if you don’t use it, you lose it” can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.