Millions of people fall every year. Although any one at any age can fall, falls are especially troublesome for adults aged 65 and over. That’s because falls are the leading cause of non-fatal and fatal injuries in this age group.
The good news is that falls can often be prevented. Here are 11 steps you can take to reduce your risk of falling at home and while you’re out:
- Wear the right shoes. Choose properly-fitting shoes with good traction, especially when it is wet, snowy or icy outside.
- Stand up carefully. When you get up from a chair or exit a car, place both feet firmly on the ground and take a moment to steady yourself.
- Pay attention. Look at what’s in front of you so you can avoid obstacles that may cause you to trip and fall. Don’t let yourself become distracted.
- Don’t rush. Give yourself enough time to get where you need to go. Being in a hurry increases your chance of falling.
- Watch where you walk. Avoid walking on ice or snow. Wet grass can also be very slippery. Also be on the lookout for cracks, uneven surfaces or obstacles in your path.
- Move deliberately. Quick movements may cause you to lose your balance. Taking shorter steps helps keep your body more stable.
- Light it up. Add more lighting, brighter bulbs, motion sensor lights or nightlights in your home so you are able to easily see where you are going.
- Remove tripping hazards. Keep pathways clear of objects that may get in your way. Get rid of loose rugs or make sure they’re firmly secured to the floor.
- Store items in reach. You’re less likely to lose your balance if items are easy to get to and you don’t have to stretch, bend or climb to retrieve them.
- Install safety devices. Place non-slip mats in showers, tubs and in front of sinks. Install hand rails and grab bars where needed, such as along stairs and in bathrooms.
- Exercise. Engage in physical activities that improve your strength, flexibility and balance such as Tai Chi, yoga or water workouts.
For those experiencing issues with balance that can increase the risk of falling, physical therapy may be an option.
“Vestibular therapy is a form of physical therapy in which therapists use state-of-the-art equipment to assess an individual’s balance and design a training program to help improve balance,” said Kate Cassidy, MSPT, assistant director of rehabilitation services at Maury Regional Medical Center in Columbia, Tennessee. “If you or a loved one is concerned about balance issues that may lead to falling, consider scheduling a direct access appointment at one of our physical therapy locations for a personalized assessment of balance issues.”
Maury Regional Physical Therapy offers a direct access program for those who feel physical therapy may be beneficial. The program includes an assessment by a licensed physical therapist and customized physical therapy treatments with evaluation and progress notes to share with your physician. Learn more here.