Expert Health Articles

Fall Prevention: Simple Tips to Stay Independent

Whether you choose to stay at home or start to resume a “normal” life since the start of the pandemic, one thing seniors should be aware of is their fall risk while at home and while out-and-about. Measuring your fall risk is more than thinking about physical abilities, age and medical conditions. You should also consider the following, which all increase your risk for falls.

How is your vision? Consider visual field loss, age-related changes, depth perception, as well as diagnosed conditions, such as macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy. Also, consider how frequently you wear prescription glasses.

What types of medications are you taking? Consider the number of medications and any side effects possible. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about any medications that could increase your fall risk. 

Does pain affect your movement? Pain can affect your quality of movement and desire or ability to move fluidly.

Do you struggle with incontinence or urgency? Rushing to the bathroom can be unsafe.

How is your memory? Having memory loss or confusion can decrease proper judgment and lead to impulsive choices with your movement during daily activities.

Does your home have fall hazards? Consider lighting, oxygen tubing, pets, clutter and floor surfaces.

After you know your risks, it is important to take steps to decrease these risks.

Ways to decrease your risk include staying active. Find a simple exercise routine, including walking or simple strengthening or balance activities, to keep your muscles and reflexes strong.  Also, have your eyes checked regularly and wear your glasses routinely. Consider putting them on at night if you wake to use the bathroom.

Another way to decrease risk is to check your home for safety. Keep walkways clear enough to walk through freely. If you have rugs in your home, consider picking them up or taping them down securely to the floor. Check the lighting in your home to make sure you have enough light, especially at night. Do a safety “walk-through” of your home to see where grab bars or handrails might be useful, especially on stairways, home entrances, near toilets, near shower entrances, and inside showers.

Keep frequently used items within easy reach, such as in the kitchen, to avoid reaching too far above your head or below your waist, which can both throw off your balance. Consider buying equipment that can help with your normal daily living skills, such as a bed rail, toilet riser, shower chair or bench, hand-held shower head, non-skid plastic shower mat and a reacher to grab items off the floor. Wear shoes with good tread on the sole and that cover your heel or wear gripper socks around your home. Take your time for best safety around pets, steps, cords on the floor, and any other objects that require you to step over or around.

Most importantly, have an honest conversation with your doctor about any falls you have had and any concerns you have about falling and your safety.

Jenna Cotterman

Director of Compliance and Education with Bridge Home Care Services

Bridge Home Health & Hospice