Falls Prevention Tips
October 1, 2021
September is falls prevention month and taking a stand (no pun intended) on your health can be one of the most powerful tools for longevity. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), one in four Americans fall every year. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for people over 65+ years old. At Pisgah Valley Retirement Community, we are fortunate to have a Wellness Center on site for residents and members of the Buncombe County area to access; not to mention qualified and experienced staff trained to recognize signs and symptoms of people at an increased risk for falling. Staff can recommend strategies for reducing the risk of falling and even lead programs such as balance and flexibility classes or 55 and over strength training classes for keeping the body conditioned and upright.
As we age, natural processes take place that increase the risk for falling no matter who you are. Reduced muscle strength, reduced brain cognition, difficulty changing directions (see last month’s blog post), medication use may increase and other physical and environmental factors affects our stability. Proactive measures to avoid a fall include being aware of warning signs, staying physically and mentally active, eating a consistent and wholesome diet, staying hydrated, managing medications and letting someone know if your fear of falling increases.
One of the most obvious signs is gait and balance challenges. Do you notice that you feel the need to hold on to surfaces as you move around? If so, this is the time to set up an appointment with your regular physician to have an evaluation. He or she could provide some insight as to whether your balance challenges could be improved with the assistance of some physical therapy or if your challenges are due to other factors such as poor diet or medication side effects.
Do you experience dizziness or fatigue often? If so this could be a consequence to nutritional deficiencies, dehydration or medications. Your regular physician can help determine the cause and create an action plan to improve these areas. As we age the sensation for thirst decreases so a lot of seniors do not drink enough fluids. Be sure to drink half your body weight in ounces each day to stay hydrated. If you are one that sweats a lot, try drinking even more than that. Focus your consumption on water, decaffeinated teas and coffee and limit alcohol consumption.
For most of us, vision and hearing loss occurs with age. These two factors can create balance difficulties. It is very certain that poor vision will cause problems navigating around but hearing loss can also throw off balance. Be proactive by having your eyesight and vision checked by specialists. Glasses or contacts can help your sight and a hearing aid can help improve hearing. This can improve your quality of life and help with socialization as well.
Chances are you spend most of your time at home these days. One of the best ways to prevent falls is to evaluate your home’s safety. Think of aging in place strategies. AARP has a checklist for the home which gives tips on making your home safe, check out that guide here. Some of those tips include installing bright lights so your floors and home is visibly clear, installing a roof over the entryway to decrease wet and icy conditions, using storage for shoes so that they are not lying around (creates a trip hazard) and more.
By taking a stand on your health and being proactive about reducing falls, you can save time, money, stress and worry. It’s a lot easier to enjoy life and put in some sweat equity to remain stable and strong, rather than spend hours or days in pain trying to recuperate from a bad fall.