Falls are the leading cause of injury and accidental death in adults over age 65, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And roughly 1 in 4 older adults reports falling each year. In short, falls can represent a major threat to the health and independence of older adults.
The first step to avoiding falls is to understand what causes them. Reasons for falls can include:
- Poor balance
- Decreased muscle and bone strength
- Reduced vision or hearing
- Medical conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease or dementia
- Unsafe conditions in and around the home
Tips for preventing falls
Stay safe and on your feet by taking some steps to protect yourself, says Sara Settle-Peace, a neurologic certified specialist at Sharp Allison deRose Rehabilitation Center.
“You can prevent falls by making the needed adjustments to your home and lifestyle, and by making sure you eat well, stay fit and use whatever devices you need for your daily life while keeping you safe,” she says.
Tips for fall prevention:
- Make an appointment with your doctor to review medications and health conditions that may cause a fall.
- Keep moving — activities that can improve your strength, balance, coordination and flexibility include walking, water activities and tai chi.
- Wear sensible shoes.
- Use assistive devices such as a cane or walker to keep you steady.
You can also take steps to make your home safer:
- Remove tripping hazards such as loose rugs or electrical cords.
- Store clothing, dishes and food in easy-to-reach locations.
- Light up your living space with night lights and have a lamp within reach of your bed for middle-of-the-night needs.
Learn your fall risk
If you are worried about falling or if you recently had a fall, ask your doctor for a referral to the Balance and Vestibular Program at Sharp Allison deRose Rehabilitation Center. The therapist will perform a thorough evaluation, and design an exercise and training program to improve your balance and strength. This may include balance training, mobility improvement, strength training and education.
“Falls can be prevented,” says Peace. “By taking control of your health and utilizing the resources available to you, you can reduce your risk of falls and continue to do the things you enjoy.”
The Sharp Allison deRose Rehabilitation Center provides comprehensive services for people at risk of falls. Call 858-939-6949 to learn more.