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For seniors living on their own, falling is one of the biggest threats to their health and safety. Surprisingly, the fear of falling can actually increase the chances that seniors will fall. And, once seniors fall, they are likely to fall again. Fortunately, there are several things that can be done to help prevent and decrease the likelihood of seniors taking a tumble either at home or out in public.
When seniors fall, many of them end up with broken bones or head injuries. Many of them fall because they are taking medication that affects their balance or because it has been a few years since they’ve updated their prescription glasses. Some seniors also fall because there are things on the ground that simply get in their way. Seniors who live in areas that get snow and ice should be sure to be extra careful on cold, snowy days.
Let’s take a look at eight different ways that seniors can reduce the chances of falling:
Learn about medication side effects.
Some medications will affect your body in unexpected ways. If you are unsure of how your prescription medications will affect you, it is important that you talk with your health care provider and your pharmacist. You might have unusual side effects by taking multiple prescriptions. Many prescription medications can cause dizziness and some also affect your blood pressure and heart rhythms. If your medications are causing you to fall, ask your health care providers if there are alternatives.
Get your eyes tested annually.
If you cannot see where you are going, you could fall. Since many seniors need corrective eyewear, they should get their eyes checked every single year. It is commonplace for the eyes to subtly change a little bit each year, so your prescription could change enough that it could affect whether or not you have an increased fall risk. Corrective eyewear might not be cheap, but it is much less expensive than expensive recovery from debilitating falls.
Use an assistive walking device.
If you truly have challenges with your balance when you are upright, it might be time to invest in an assistive walking device, like a cane or walker. You might not need it for your full body weight, but having that extra “leg” can be just what you need to decrease your chances of falling. Some canes are very stylish and you just might be able to make a stylish cane your “thing”. If you need a walker or something more substantial, ask your health care provider if it can be covered by insurance. Mobility aids include things like
- Walker-cane hybrids
- Seated walking scooters
Move into a senior living community.
If you live by yourself and you worry about falling, it might be time to move into a senior living community. Our facilities offer different types of living arrangements, like independent living centres to assisted living centres. You can choose what you need and know that you will be supported by friendly and entertaining neighbors. Senior living communities have become vibrant places with healthy meals, fun recreational activities, and so much more. They are no longer places where seniors go to sit around and do nothing. They are exciting places that are always looking for ways to add value to seniors’ lives.
Wear low-heeled, supportive shoes that fit.
Your shoes could affect whether or not you fall. It is important that you have shoes that are comfortable and supportive. They do not need to be ugly, but they should have low heels so you can maintain your balance and a lower centre of gravity. Accidents are more likely to happen if you have shoes that are too big or too small and if the heels lift your feet in unnatural ways. A good pair of sneakers can be supportive footwear. If you are able to safely walk around barefoot at home, you could reduce your chances of falling. The bottoms of your feet have plenty of nerve endings that will help you feel the floor beneath you.
Avoid recreational drugs and alcohol.
t is easier to fall when you are not sober. Like the side effects of prescription medication, the effects of recreational drugs and alcohol can impair your balance. Even a glass of wine can impair your ability to walk with perfect balance. Even if you have been drinking alcohol your entire life, when you get older, your body’s metabolism changes and you might not handle your alcohol the same way you did when you were younger. If you do not want to fall, do not put substances in your body that can increase the chances that you could fall.
One of the best ways to avoid falling is to work on your balance. You can do this by exercising regularly. Some of the best exercises are those that work the core and work on balance. For many seniors, different forms of yoga are the most beneficial. Even going to regular walks will help you stay fit and will help you avoid falling. There are plenty of other reasons to exercise regularly. Exercise is usually recommended for most people, but if you have questions about your ability to exercise, it is best to talk to your health care provider first.
Keep your blood pressure under control.
Blood pressure changes can also lead to falls. For example, some seniors can become lightheaded when they get up from a seated posture. This is because the change of position can change their blood pressure. The lightheadedness often comes when seniors get up too quickly. To avoid this odd sensation, it is a good idea to get up slowly and with the help of the arm of a chair. It can also be helpful to have someone nearby to help you get up. It can also be helpful not to sit in one position for too long so your blood does not pool in your seat or your feet.