National Falls Prevention Awareness Day is September 22 of this month, and to raise awareness we're providing you with information on preventing falls in and around your home, as well as offering free risk assessments. Feeling sturdy on your feet? PLEASE consider sharing this article with friends and family at risk of falling!
With so many dangers to consider as we age, "falling" often ends of at the bottom of the list. But in reality, according to the National Council on Aging, the following statistics are true:
*1 in 3 Americans Aged 65+ falls each year
*Every 13 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall
*Every 20 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall
So---what can we do about it? Just like most illnesses and injuries, PREVENTION is key, and there are two primary areas to consider. First, how can we prepare our bodies to prevent falls? Second, what can we do to prepare our homes?
Preparing Your Body: Balance/Exercise, Medication and Sight
Balance and Exercise: Do you find yourself holding onto walls, furniture, or someone else when walking? Are you having difficulty arising from chairs? The National Council on Aging suggests to take note if you're struggling in these areas, and that you might need to make a visit to a physical therapist. BBN Physical Therapy can help you work on your balance, strength, and gait - all important aspects of fall prevention. You also may need a cane or walker. We offer free risk assessments for those with fears of falling and are glad to fit you to your cane or walker free of charge. Please simply call our office to schedule an appointment! There are many good options for balance and exercise programs, so even if you don't choose BBN please make sure and find a program that's a good fit for you.
Medication: Talk about your medication with your doctor. If you're having a hard time keeping track of medicines or are experiencing side effects, discuss your concerns with your doctor and pharmacist. Review your medicines each time you get a new prescription. Beware of non-prescription medications that contain sleep aids—including painkillers with “PM” in their names. These can lead to balance issues and dizziness. Avoid them if possible.
Sight: If you wear glasses make sure you have a current prescription and are using the glasses as advised by your eye doctor. Remember that using tint-changing lenses can be hazardous when going from bright sun into darkened buildings and homes. A simple strategy is to change glasses upon entry in a building or stop until your lenses adjust. Bifocals also can be problematic on stairs, so it’s important to be cautious. For those already struggling with low vision, consult with a low-vision specialist for ways to make the most of their eyesight.
Preparing Your Home
For a comprehensive list of how to fall-proof your home, please click here. This comprehensive list will be available in our office as well. Below is an abbreviated list of how to eliminate 'home hazards' that may cause falls.
Remove things you can trip over (ie electric cords, books, clothes, and shoes) from stairs and places where you walk.
Remove small throw rugs or use double-sided tape to keep the rugs from slipping.
Improve the lighting in your home by placing night lights in the bathroom and keeping lights turned on in the daytime and nighttime.
Keep items you use often in cabinets you can reach easily without using a step stool.
If necessary, have grab bars put in next to your toilet and in the tub or shower.
Use non-slip mats in the tub and on bathroom floors.
Make sure you have handrails and lights on all staircases.
Wear shoes inside and outside your house. Avoid wearing flip-flops, slippers or going barefoot.
We hope this information helps keep you safe from falls! Please always feel free to contact us with questions or concerns--we're here for you!