By Julie Langston and Sarah Allen-Sutter
One of Yolo Healthy Aging Alliance’s main goals is to connect older adults to the resources they need to age with dignity, choice, and independence. For the many older adults who choose to live independently, staying safe and preventing falls are key factors in living happily and healthily in their own homes.
Falling is a frequent accident leading to injury and ER visits, but don't let a fear of falling keep you from being active. Overcoming this fear and making safety upgrades in your home can help you stay active, maintain your physical health, and prevent future falls. Doing things like getting together with friends, gardening, walking, or going to the local senior center helps you stay healthy.
Take the Right Steps to Prevent Falls
Here are some important actions that you can take to prevent falls and stay safe in your home:
Stay physically active.
Have your eyes and hearing tested.
Know your medication side effects.
Get enough sleep.
Limit alcohol consumption.
Stand up slowly.
Use an assistive device such as a cane or walker to increase stability.
Avoid wet or icy surfaces.
Wear non-skid, rubber-soled, low-heeled shoes, or lace-up shoes with non-skid soles that fully support your feet.
Part 1 of YHAA’s fall prevention webinar discusses how to prevent falls and includes a live demonstration on strengthening muscles and improving balance. You can watch the webinar here: https://youtu.be/UTqGom8Bstw
Fall-Proofing Your Home
This is a short list of areas in your home you can easily and quickly adjust to improve the safety in your home:
Stairways, Hallways, and Pathways
Use handrails when using the stairs.
Keep areas where you walk tidy. Do not leave books, papers, clothes, and shoes on the floor or stairs.
Carpets should be fixed firmly to the floor, so they will not slip. Put no-slip strips on tile and wooden floors. You can buy these strips at the hardware store.
Do not use throw rugs or small area rugs. These can be trip and slip hazards.
Install grab bars near toilets and on both the inside and outside of your tub and shower.
Place non-skid mats, strips, or carpet on all surfaces that may get wet.
Remember to install and turn on night lights, so you can safely reach the bathroom at night.
Install night lights in your bedroom.
Store a flashlight by your bed in case of a power outage.
Keep a telephone near your bed.
Other Living Areas
Move electric cords and telephone wires near walls and away from walking paths.
Secure all carpets and large-area rugs firmly to the floor.
Arrange your furniture so it is not in your way when walking, and so you do not trip over lower tables (especially coffee tables).
Keep items you use often within easy reach.
Do not stand on a chair or table to reach something that is too high; use a “reach stick” instead or ask for help.
Keep emergency numbers in large print near each telephone.
If a Fall Does Occur…
Tell your doctor or caregiver
Fall prevention is a team effort and is nothing to be embarrassed about! Tell a medical professional when you fall. Some injuries that should be treated early can be undetected at first, so it is important to be assessed by a medical professional. Talking to someone about your fall will help them help you.
Consider an emergency response system
If you are concerned about falling, think about getting an emergency response system. If you fall or need emergency help, you can push a button (or some devices will sense the fall automatically) and alert a call center that you have fallen. If you do not want to pay a monthly fee you can purchase a Smart Speaker and, if you fall, simply say, “Alexa call 911.”
Learn how to fall and how to get back up
Watch part two of YHAA’s Fall Prevention Webinar, in partnership with FitDeb. Here, FitDeb demonstrates how to fall, what to do immediately after falling, and how to get up from a fall. We also go over what steps to take after a fall. The video is long but very informative. Watch the video here: https://youtu.be/_RnhvwMgovs?
Information reference: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/fall-proofing-your-home
More Information About Falls and Falls Prevention
National Falls Prevention Resource Center 571-527-3900 www.ncoa.org/center-for-healthy-aging/falls-resource-center/