Affinity Health Plan

  • Health Awareness Series: January 2017 - Fall Prevention for Older Adults

    January 19, 2017

    Falls can happen to anyone. But as people age, they fall more often and are hurt more badly.  Each year, more than one out of three adults 65 years and older get hurt in a fall. Falls are the main cause of injuries for older adults. These injuries, such as breaking a hip, can be life-changing and can make it hard for you to get around on your own. In time, you may not be able to live alone.

    Take Steps to Prevent Falls

    Speak up.
    Talk to your doctor about your risk of falling and what you can do to prevent falls. Tell your doctor right away if:

    • You have just fallen or have fallen before.
    • You are afraid of falling.
    • You feel unsteady when walking or standing.

    Get annual physical exams.

    • Have your eyes and ears checked often.
    • Make sure your exam includes checking for heart and blood pressure problems.

    Check medications.

    • Review ALL of your medicine with your doctor, including those your doctors gave you, those you bought over the counter, plus any vitamins and supplements.
    • Ask about any side effects like feeling dizzy or sleepy.
    • Take your medicine on schedule and with a full glass of water, unless you’re told otherwise.
    • Your doctor can help you decide which medications might be stopped or changed if their side effects might make you fall.
    • Limit how much alcohol you drink and do not smoke.
    • Make sure you are getting enough calcium and Vitamin D.

    Keep moving.

    • Stay active!
    • Exercises that strengthen the legs and help with balance can prevent falls. Walking, swimming, climbing stairs, dancing, or doing tai chi and yoga are all ways to keep you strong and fit.
    • Check with your doctor first before starting any exercise program.

    Check for home safety.
    Most falls happen at home.

    • Keep floors clear and clutter-free. Arrange furniture so that you have a clear path.
    • Get rid of small throw rugs which can slip around, or use double-sided tape to stick them to the floor.
    • Add grab bars in the bathroom—next to and inside the tub, and next to the toilet.
    • Have handrails and lights installed on all staircases.
    • Make sure your home has lots of light.
    • Get up slowly after eating, lying down or sitting so your blood pressure doesn’t drop and make you feel woozy.
    • Store food, cans, dishes, clothing and everyday items where you can easily reach them.
    • Wear shoes with rubber soles and low heels. Make sure your shoes support your feet.

    Winter safety.
    It is easy to slip and fall in the winter, especially on ice and snow.

    • Avoid wet pavements that could be icy.
    • Clear away snow and salt your walkways and steps. If possible, have someone help you.
    • Wear boots with non-skid soles which prevent you from slipping.
    • If you use a cane, replace the rubber tip before it is worn smooth.
    • An ice pick-like attachment that fits onto the end of the cane may give you more traction.

    It may take a little planning to prevent falls, but it’s well worth the effort!

    National Institute on Aging, Go4Life. “Preventing Falls”.
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Don’t Fall Behind on Fall Prevention”.
    HealthinAging. “Winter Safety Tips for Older Adults”.

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