If you or a senior in your life has fallen, you’re not alone. In fact, more than one in four people 65 years or older fall each year in the U.S., and the risk of serious fall-related injuries rises with age. Fortunately, many falls can be prevented. Here’s a look at the most common causes of falls and what you can do to reduce your loved one’s risk of injury from falling.
Common causes of falls
Many factors can increase your risk for falling in your senior years. Common causes include:
- Poor balance, reflexes or vision caused by declining health or muscle atrophy
- Mild cognitive impairment or dementia
- Foot problems or unsafe footwear
- Certain medications that cause dizziness or confusion
- Safety hazards in the home
Tips to prevent falls
The first step in fall prevention is understanding the key factors that can contribute to a fall in the first place. There are many ways you can be proactive to prevent falls and the injuries that may come from them, like muscle strains, fractured bones and even head trauma .
Talk to your doctor
Regular visits with your physician can help you understand your current state of health and any factors that may contribute to your risk for falling. Certain medications, for instance, can cause dangerous side effects like dizziness, drowsiness or confusion that can lead to falls. Have your doctor test your vision and update prescription eyeglasses as needed to maintain your best eyesight.
Assess your living environment
As you get older, it becomes imperative that you identify any risk factors in your home that could lead to a fall. This may include:
- Adding handrails and grab bars where extra support is needed in the home, such as the bathroom.
- Clearing the home of tripping hazards, including loose carpeting, piles of books or exposed cords.
- Keeping spaces well-lit by investing in proper lighting where seniors frequently travel through the home such as hallways, staircases and common rooms. Nightlights for bathrooms and hallways are helpful for senior who may get up during the night.
- Rearranging furniture to provide open, adequate space in living areas for safe walking.
A daily workout routine, even something as simple as a short walk, can help improve your strength, balance and coordination. Your healthcare provider can recommend safe, low-impact exercises that can be done at home. Many senior living communities also offer on-site fitness rooms and classes to encourage movement and physical activity.
Ask for help
Finally, don’t face the risk of falling alone. Ask for help from close friends and family members. Together, they can help safeguard your living environment, identify areas or situations in your life that may increase your risk for falling and take any necessary actions to help prevent falls from occurring in the future.
For some seniors, moving to an assisted living community is a great option when living at home alone becomes dangerous to their health and safety. This is especially true if your loved one has had recurring falls in their house. In assisted living communities, staff and caregivers are on-hand 24/7 to assist with activities of daily living including meal preparation, bathing, dressing, grooming and more. This type of support empowers seniors to use assistive devices, modify their living space with safety equipment and maintain their independence in a safe environment for as long as possible.
While falls are common when you get older, the good news is that many can be prevented by assessing your living space, improving your muscle strength and balance and having ongoing conversations with your healthcare provider.