Preventing Falls this Fall Season and Beyond
Updated: Oct 19
There are many ways to keep yourself healthy as you age, things like exercising, socializing and eating well are all very important. But another important aspect to staying healthy is keeping ourselves from harm. So as fall has arrived, it’s important to keep ourselves or loved ones from the serious dangers of accidental falls.
According to the CDC, 2019 saw 3 million emergency department visits attributed to falls with over 30,000 of them being fatal to adults over 65 years of age. These are serious numbers and so its imperative to keep our loved ones safe from the dangers of falling. Below are a few tips to help keep our elder loved ones from taking an unfortunate tumble this fall season and beyond.
Fall Risk Factors
One area of fall prevention lies in knowing our loved one’s physical capabilities and limitations so as to better understand their chances of risk. It’s important to keep in mind that each person is different and we should remain mindful that our abilities are not the same as someone else’s, especially an aging loved one.
There are several factors that come into play here but some things to talk to a doctor about are any lower body deficiencies that might be present. Problems standing up or issues with balance are huge factors in the risk of falling. Pain in feet or improper footwear are also things to be aware of and correct as best as possible.
A person’s vision is also a key component to their ability to properly navigate their way through the world. If someone’s vision is impaired the likelihood of accidents, be they falling or otherwise, are greatly increased.
Everyone can Fall
While there are several factors that might increase the likelihood of falling, there are also many things that we can help our loved ones with that can help lower those chances.
One of the most important things however, is having a deep and honest conversation with your loved one about both the seriousness of a fall as well as their susceptibility to falling. Your elder might not want to have such a conversation or they might continue to assure you that they are in great health and falling isn’t something they are worried about. It might take some effort, but it’s important to convey that accidents do happen all the time to the fittest, most nimblest of people and that they are not above an accident happening to them. Once they are able to entertain the idea that a fall could potentially happen to them, then together you can move forward implementing solutions.
Steps to take to lower fall risk
As we mentioned, a key component to mitigating falls is to ensure that our loved one’s vision and balance are at the best levels. Make sure their eyes have been checked and that they are wearing the right kind of prescription at all times. If it’s been a little while, schedule an eye exam and use this as an opportunity to discuss fall risks and the importance of wearing their proper prescription.
Along with the proper prescription, ensuring that their home is well lit is also crucial to keeping fall risks low. Install automatic night lights in commonly trafficked areas such as the path to the bathroom and the bathroom itself. Talk to your loved one about any areas in which they have trouble seeing for one reason or another and see if you can’t find a lighting solution that works. Medication Side effects
Our loved ones are typically on a varying range of medications and it's important to know the side effects of the medications on their own, as well as any interactions they may have with one another. Schedule a doctor’s visit and be sure to list all the medications your loved one is currently on and ask about their interactions with regard to falling. Be sure to know which medications or interactions can cause your loved one to become dizzy or impair their vision and see if there might be other versions of the medication that don’t produce these side effects. In the event that no other option is available, it’s still important to know about the medications and have a conversation about the kinds of activities that should be avoided under the influence of those medications.
Fall-proof the home
One of the more simpler ways to help our loved ones from falling is to fall-proof the home as best as possible. This can mean ensuring there is proper lighting in the areas that need it, as mentioned before. But it can also mean tidying up any clutter that could easily be tripped on.
Any wires, or uneven pieces of carpet or tile should be repaired and out of the way. Widen any narrow passages as best as possible. Sharp corners on countertops or tables could be covered with thick tablecloths or even padding to prevent any serious head or bodily injury in the event of a fall.