As you get older, falls are more likely. That's because your reaction time slows. Your muscles and joints may become stiffer, making them less flexible. Illness, medications, and vision changes can also affect your balance. A fall could leave you unable to live on your own. To make your home safer, follow these tips:
Preventing falls at home
- Put nonskid pads under area rugs
- Remove throw rugs
- Replace worn floor coverings
- Tack carpets firmly to each step on carpeted stairs
- Put nonskid strips on the edges of uncarpeted stairs
- Keep floors and stairs free of clutter and cords
- Arrange furniture so there are clear pathways
- Clean up any spills right away
- Install grab bars in the tub or shower
- Apply nonskid strips or put a nonskid rubber mat in the tub or shower
- Sit on a bath chair to bathe
- Use bathmats with nonskid backing
- Keep a flashlight in each room
- Put a nightlight along the pathway between the bedroom and the bathroom
What to do it you fall
Above all, try to stay calm.
- If you start to fall, try to relax your body. This will reduce the impact of the fall.
- After you fall, press your monitor button or phone for help.
- Don't rush to get up. First, make sure you're not hurt.
- Be sure to get checked by your health care provider for any injuries.
As we get older, we're not as steady on our feet as we once were. And we may have health problems we didn't have when we were younger. So, it's not surprising that older people are more likely to trip and fall. Falling can be very serious. That's why it's important to be aware of your own risk of falling.
The dangers of falling
Falls are one of the main causes of injury in people over age 65. An older person who falls may take longer to heal than a younger person. And, after a fall, an older person is more likely to have problems that don't go away. So, preventing falls can help you avoid serious health problems.
Are you at risk of falling?
Answer these questions to rate your level of risk.
- Are you a woman?
- Have you fallen or stumbled in the last 6 months?
- Are you over age 65?
- Are you ever dizzy or lightheaded?
- Do you have a hard time getting in and out of the bathtub or on and off the toilet?
- Do you lean on objects to help you get around? Or do you use a cane or walker?
- Do you need new glasses or hearing aids?
- Do you have two or more long-lasting (chronic) medical conditions?
- Do you take three or more medications?
- Have you felt depressed recently?
- Have you had more trouble with your memory in recent months?
- Are there hazards in your home that might cause you to fall, such as loose rugs or poor lighting?
- Do you have a pet that jumps on you or might trip you?
- Have you stopped getting regular exercise?
If you answered "yes" to any of the above questions, you should take steps to reduce your risk of a fall. Monitoring health conditions and keeping walkways in your home free of clutter are just two ways. Changing is sometimes easier said than done. But keep in mind that even small changes can make you less likely to fall.
The fear of falling
It's normal to be scared of falling, especially if you've fallen before. But being afraid can actually make you more likely to fall. This is because:
- Fear might cause you to become less active. Being less active can lead to a loss of strength and balance.
- Fear can lead to isolation from others, depression, or the use of more medications or alcohol. And all these things make falling even more likely.
To break the cycle, learn more about ways to avoid falling. As you take control, you may find yourself feeling less afraid.