More than one third of adults 65+ fall each year, and falls are the leading cause of injury deaths among seniors. Falls are also a major cause of disabling injuries that permanently restrict the mobility of seniors. Each year, almost 2 million seniors are treated in emergency departments for nonfatal injuries from falls, and more than 400,000 are hospitalized. Rates of fall related deaths have increased significantly over the past decade.
The video, Smart Moves to Avoid Falling Down discusses causes and prevention of slips and falls. Any governmental entity may download and use this video.
Preventing Slips and Falls
Regular exercise significantly reduces an older adult’s chances of falling. Strength training exercises that improve balance and coordination, like Tai Chi, are most helpful. As a precaution, check with a doctor to determine the most appropriate exercise for each person.
Home Safety Check
- Remove things that might be tripped over (such as magazines, clothing and shoes) from stairs and walking areas.
- Store items used often in cabinets that can be reached easily without using a step stool.
- Install grab bars in the tub or shower and next to the toilet. Use non-slip mats on the bathtub and shower floors.
- Improve lighting in the home. Brighter lights may be needed to see well. Lamp shades or frosted bulbs can reduce glare.
- Install handrails and lights on all stairs in the home and outside.
Review all medicines with a health care provider
Ask a doctor or local pharmacist to look at all the medicines, including non-prescription medications. As people age, the way some medicines work in the body can change. Sometimes those changes can make an older person drowsy or light-headed, which could lead to a fall.
Make sure an eye doctor checks to be sure eyeglasses are correct and that there are no conditions that limit vision, like glaucoma or cataracts. Poor vision can increase the chance of falling.
Wear Safe Shoes
- Wear sturdy shoes with thin, non-slip soles instead of running shoes with thick soles.
- Wear shoes at all times – especially around the house. Floppy slippers and stockings can increase the risk of falling in the home.
- Shoes should be firmly fastened. Cotton lace or Velcro closings are good choices. Shoes should have non-skid soles with less than a 1 1/2 inch heel, containing enough space for the toes to lay flat and straight, be lightweight and supportive. The shoes fabric or leather should surround the entire foot.