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Fall Prevention: Taking Care of Yourself and Your Home

Tracy Layden

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Tracy Layden is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. Born and raised in Silicon Valley, Tracy leads the marketing efforts at Alert-1, a personal safety technology and consulting firm dedicated to helping seniors live safely and independently. Tracy holds a degree in mathematics from Scripps College and is an accomplished ballroom dancer and equestrian.

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Reduce your fall risk by implementing these proactive strategies

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the leading cause of injury in older Americans, with one out of four older Americans falling each year.

How can you make yourself less likely to experience a disastrous fall? There are two main components: making your body healthy and making your home safe.

Take Care of Your Health

The first step to fall prevention is to take care of yourself. You will feel healthier and more confident when your body is stronger. Rather than worrying about falling all the time, understand what can put you more at risk so that you can work to counteract those forces. Take care of your health by taking the following four steps:

  1. Talk to your doctor. If you’ve had a recent fall or are concerned about your risk, tell your healthcare provider. They can make personalized recommendations to help you be and feel safer.
  2. Learn about your medications. Some medications may increase your fall risk. Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist about those possible side effects and what you can do to counteract them.
  3. Get new eye prescriptions. As we age, our vision changes. Have your eyes checked by a doctor once a year and get new glasses when you need them. The better you can see, the safer you will be.
  4. Exercise to improve your balance. Reduce your risk for falls by staying active with exercises that can improve your coordination, balance, and strengthen your core and leg muscles like Tai Chi, dance, yoga, and pilates.

Take Care of Your Home

Falls are dangerous, and they happen most often in the home. Your home should be your sanctuary, not a threat to your safety. So the second step of fall prevention is to make your home itself a safer place by removing fall hazards. Make the following four changes to your home to decrease fall risk:

  1. Bring in more light. It’s much easier to trip over something if you can’t see it. Add more lamps and light to your home. Use motion-activated night-lights for hallways and closets where hazards hide. Make sure all light switches are within easy reach so you aren’t walking through the dark to get to them.
  2. Clear tripping hazards. All walkways and hallways should have plenty of clear floor space. Move any cords or wires that you have to step over and consider moving furniture to allow for bigger pathways.
  3. Add hand rails. Anywhere in your home where there is a step should have a handrail to hold on to, particularly by your front door and walkways. You should also have handrails by your bathtub, shower, and toilet to help you balance on slippery floors.
  4. Install a medical alert. You home should work hard to protect you. A medical alert will allow you to call for help if there ever is an emergency. Fall detection can automatically call for help if it senses a fall. Add a coded lockbox to your front door so that your emergency responders can get inside to help you.

Surround Yourself with Safeguards

Falls are scary but you can dramatically reduce your risk with some simple preparations. Start your path to a safer home by simply clearing your floors. As far as improving your balance, any exercise will help – so whether you go for regular walks or go ballroom dancing, you can reduce your fall risk and have fun at the same time.

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