Falls are the leading cause of injury and death among older adults. In fact, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an older adult falls about every 10 seconds in the United States.
The aging baby boomer population contributes to the concern. There are nearly 80 million baby boomers in the United States. In 2014 alone, there were 29 million falls among older Americans causing 7 million injuries. This added up to about $31 billion in Medicare costs.
A fall, with or without injury, can carry a giant burden on people. A fear of falling may cause you to limit your activities. This may lead to a faster physical decline, isolation and depression. Here are some of the most important fall prevention tips older adults should keep in mind.
Fall Prevention Starts in Your Home
According to the most recent numbers, the majority of fall injuries among older people occur inside their homes. A closer look at the numbers show us that no room is safe. The places where falls are likely to occur include:
- 1. living rooms (31%)
- 2. bedrooms (30%)
- 3. kitchens (19%)
- 4. bathrooms (13%)
- 5. hallways (10%)
Stairs are also high on the list of places where older adults fall, and about 20 percent of falls happen outside or away from the home.
So what should you do? Try these fall prevention tips for your home.
- Remove or fix items you could trip over such as raised doorway thresholds, throw rugs or loose carpet.
- Use nonskid floor wax and wipe up spills right away.
- Keep your house well lit. Use night lights in hallways and bathrooms.
- Make sure handrails on stairways are sturdy. Also have a light switch at the top and bottom of the stairs.
- Store things on lower shelves so you don't have to climb or reach.
- Keep your cellphone in your pocket at all times.
Exercise for Fall Prevention
Another fall prevention tip to take to heart is exercising. We’re not talking about pumping iron at the gym, but doing things that will help build strength and balance. The National Council on Aging recommends things like:
- Tai Chi. You’ll practice slow, low-impact, controlled body movements for increased balance, strength and flexibility.
- Stepping On. This program not only will teach you strength exercises, but will show you how to spot potential hazards in your home and how medications can contribute to falls.
- A Matter of Balance. An eight-session class where you’ll practice many of the exercises sitting down.
- Otago Exercise Program. Classes are taught one-on-one with a physical therapist.
Participating in a fall prevention program like STEADI also can decrease your risk, while keeping you safe and independent.
Fall Prevention and Your Health
Perhaps the best fall prevention you may hear as you get older is to take care of yourself. Health-related problems that contribute to falls include:
You can decrease your risk of developing many of these conditions by living a healthy lifestyle, which includes exercising and eating right. Talk to your doctor about putting together a fall prevention plan for you.
You can also get more tips by downloading our free guide, 6 Steps to Getting Fit and Active.