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Preventing Falls for Seniors

Why is fall prevention important for seniors?

Falls are the leading cause of injury and accidental death for older adults. This is true for two main reasons:

  • As the body ages, changes in your eyesight, hearing, coordination, balance, and physical strength make it easier for you to fall.

  • As you grow older, your bones become more brittle, and your body heals and fights off disease at a slower rate.

These changes mean that falls can have a more serious effect on your health than they did when you were younger.

What can I do to prevent falls?

Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to prevent falls. Be sure to follow these important safety tips:

"Fall-proof" yourself:

  • Have your vision and hearing checked on a regular basis so they can be corrected.

  • Review your medications with your doctor or pharmacist. Some drugs can make you drowsy, dizzy, or unsteady.

  • Watch how much alcohol you drink. Even a small amount can affect your coordination and reaction time.

  • Ask your doctor to help you plan an exercise program that will improve your strength and flexibility.

"Fall-proof" your home:

  • Make sure there are handrails on both sides of all stairways. Keep handrails tightly fastened.

  • Install light switches at the top and bottom of staircases.

  • Keep indoor stairs and hallways free of clutter. Have snow and ice cleared from outdoor steps and pathways.

  • Attach non-slip backing to all rugs. Tack rugs down so that they lie flat, and re-glue vinyl flooring if it is coming loose.

  • If you spill something on the floor, wipe it up immediately.

  • Install grab bars in all tub and toilet areas.

  • Use non-skid mats, abrasive strips, or carpet on any bathroom surface that may get wet.

  • Install night-lights throughout the house.

  • Make sure you can reach a light switch and a phone from your bed.

  • Arrange furniture and other objects so that there are still wide, clear aisles for walking.

  • Use couches and chairs that are high enough to get into and out of easily.

  • Store frequently used items in cupboards and cabinets that are easy to reach.

  • Use a sturdy step stool or ladder to reach high places. Don't stand on chairs, tables, or boxes.

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