Falls can lead to serious injuries, but can be prevented
Falls are a leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injury in Arizona for people 65 years of age and older. Falls can result in serious injuries such as fractures and traumatic brain injuries, and in some cases can be fatal. But the good news is that falls are not an inevitable part of aging and can be prevented.
There are several things you can do to reduce your risk, and it starts at home. Reducing clutter and tripping hazards around your home will greatly reduce the risk of a fall.
Showers and tubs without slip resistant mats, poorly lit rooms, cords and wires, and unsecured throw rugs can all increase your risk for a fall. It does not have to be expensive to create a safer home.
Below is a list of ten things you can buy for less than $20 that will lower your risk for a fall.
- Shower or bathtub mat
- Grab Bars for your shower or tub
- Non-slip bathtub strips
- Velcro strips to secure electrical cords
- Non-slip safety grip pad for rugs
- Motion sensor sight light
- Slip resistant socks
- Non-slip tape (skid tape for stairs)
- Raised toilet seat
- Wheelchair seatbelt
One of the best things you can do is to keep your body strong by participating in a physical activity regimen with balance, strength training, and flexibility components. You do not have to join a gym to be active. There are many activities you can do at home, such as Tai Chi or yoga, which can help you increase your strength and balance. Remember, before you start any physical activity check with your healthcare provider.
Talk to your healthcare provider about getting a fall risk assessment. Some medications such as blood thinners and even over the counter medications can increase your risk for a fall. When you do your fall risk assessment, be sure to bring a list of all your medications including any over the counter medications you take. You should also have your eyes checked every year and keep your prescriptions up-to-date.
If you do suffer from a fall, consult with your healthcare provider as soon as possible, even if you do not think the fall was serious. Some falls can cause injures to muscles, ligaments, and your bones that you may not notice until it becomes more serious and painful.
To learn more about what you can do to prevent falls, visit the Arizona Department of Health Services Healthy Aging Communication Network online.
Wayne Tormala is the Chief of the Bureau of Tobacco and Chronic Disease for the Arizona Department of Health Services. Wayne leads a team that focuses on reducing chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, lung disease, cancer, diabetes and asthma. The bureau also provides resources for Arizona’s aging population.