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King Farm Blog

IKF Blog
Posted: Tuesday, November 10, 2020

7 steps you can take to minimize falling

The risk of falling increases when you grow older and may be much more common than you think. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), one in four older Americans falls every year. This is also the leading cause of injuries for people over the age of 65.

The consequences of falling are often more serious than if we take a spill when we’re younger. Instead of bruises or cuts, the results might be hip fractures, broken bones and head injuries. But another danger is that the outcomes are not all physical. When seniors fall they may become more fearful and start minimizing their activities or not leave home because they’re afraid it will happen again.

But there is good news. Most falls can actually be prevented. The key is to know the common causes and how to eliminate those factors.

Conditions that often lead to falling

Balance and gait: Older adults may lose coordination, flexibility and balance, which can be the result of inactivity.

Vision: Less light reaches the retina as we grow older, making it harder to see edges, tripping hazards and obstacles.

Medications: Certain prescriptions and even over-the-counter medications can cause dizziness or dehydration, leading to a fall.

Environment: The senior’s own home can be unsafe with obstacles that increase the possibility of tripping or falling.

Chronic conditions: Over 80% of older adults have at least one chronic condition such as diabetes, stroke or arthritis. These can often lead to increasing the risk of falling.

7 steps you can take to avoid a fall

Preventing falls is one area where positive actions are available to take. The first step is to educate yourself on where you are and what changes you may need to make.

1. Schedule a visit with your medical team

Begin by being proactive to assess your risk and find out if there are factors that can be eliminated, addressed or improved. Check any medicine interactions and how best to strengthen your balance and gait.

2. Vision exams

Make sure you are up to date with your visual checkups and that you have the correct prescriptions if you wear glasses. Speaking of glasses, bifocals can also be the cause of tripping on stairs so use extra caution.

3. Consider physical therapy

If you struggle to get up from a chair or hold onto walls or furniture when walking, visit a physical therapist to get help with improving your balance and strength with exercises. They may also suggest using a cane or walker and can ensure the right fit and use.

4. Remove obstacles in the home

Take a thorough assessment of your home and remove any obstacles such as cords, throw rugs and furniture in walkways, or install any aids such as grab bars.

5. Ensure adequate lighting

Walking through shadows and not being able to clearly see is a top reason to trip and fall. Make sure you have adequate lighting especially if you’re up in the middle of the night and at the top and bottom of stairs.

6. Make your stairs safer

Stairs can be good exercise but make sure to install two rails at every stairway to help decrease the risk of tripping or missing a step.

7. Increase bathroom safety

The bathroom can be one of the more dangerous places in your home to fall. Install grab bars in the tub/shower and toilet area. Adding a shower chair and hand-held nozzle can provide additional safety.

Don’t assume it can’t happen to you

One of the most dangerous factors for the safety of older adults is the belief that falling won’t happen. The NCOA offers the following information to debunk that thought and other myths that should be challenged:

Myth #1: Falling happens to other people, not to you

Reality: One in four in the U.S. fall every year.

Myth #2: Falling is normal when you get older

Reality: Not true. Falling is not a normal part of aging and many falls can be prevented.

Myth #3: If you limit your activity, you won’t fall

Reality: Try the opposite. Performing physical activities can help you stay independent by increasing your strength and range of motion.

Myth #4: If you stay at home, you can avoid falling

Reality: Not true and a dangerous belief. Over half of all falls happen at home so it’s important to assess and fix any problems.

Myth #5: Muscle strength and flexibility can’t be regained

Reality: Yes, we do lose some muscle as we grow older but we can also restore some of our strength and flexibility. And it’s never too late to start.

Myth #6: Medication doesn’t increase your risk of falling

Reality: Medications can affect people in different ways, including those that may increase your risk of falling.

Myth #7: You don’t need to get your vision checked every year

Reality: Impaired vision can be a key risk factor for falling. Those with vision problems are more than twice as likely to fall as those without.

Myth #8: Using a cane or walker will make you more dependent

Reality: Walking aids are an important piece to help older adults maintain their mobility. It’s critical to make sure they fit well and that you know how to use them safely.

Myth #9: Better to keep your concerns to yourself

Reality: It’s better to have a team effort with family members and health care providers to reduce your risk of falling by discussing the steps you can take.

Myth #10: Avoid the conversation with an older adult and don’t hurt their feelings

Reality: If you’re a caregiver or child of an older adult, speak openly and offer your support for them to remain independent. Help them remove hazards in their home, schedule a vision exam or research fall prevention programs.

Ingleside at King Farm Independent Living

Falling as we grow older can have serious consequences but there are many steps we can take to prevent them from happening in the first place.

Taking care of our physical and cognitive health is a good start and maintaining a strong core, balance and gait also goes a long way to keep us steady and on our feet. At Ingleside at King Farm, we offer a fitness center and activities that can help you stay upright and minimize your risk from falling.

Our beautiful homes are designed with your safety in mind. And we encourage all of our residents to stay active and engaged. You’ll not only have fun but as a great side benefit, you can lower your risk of falling as well.

Call (240) 455-4582 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a personalized tour today.

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