Keys to Reducing Fall Risk in Seniors

My 73-year-old mom, who is rather healthy, recently dislocated her elbow when she fell while walking on the treadmill.

Fall risk among seniors is serious business. It can lead to fractures and dislocation. The fear of falling can eventually lead to the loss of independence.

Thankfully, there are things we can do to prevent it.

According to the Mayo Clinic, we can take the following steps to prevent falls in the home.

1. Make an appointment with your doctor to begin a fall-prevention plan.

Be sure to discuss the medications they are taking, any previous falls they’ve had, and the possibility of a health condition causing falls.

2. Keep moving.

Remaining physically active helps to prevent falls. Consider walking, water workouts, tai chi or other gentle exercises.

3. Consider a change in their footwear.

Sometimes wearing the wrong shoes can contribute to falls for seniors. So ditch those high heels ladies. Also, floppy slippers and shoes with slick soles can contribute to slips, stumbles, and falls. Making the switch to well-fitting shoes with non-skid soles is an easy way to prevent dangerous falls.

4. Remove any hazards that can contribute to falls from your home.

Those that cannot be removed should be placed where they aren’t a danger. Some common hazards that contribute to falls include:

  • Boxes and newspapers

  • Electrical and phone cords

  • Movable furniture such as coffee tables, magazine racks, and plant stands

  • Spills of liquids, grease, or food

5. Keep your home well lit.

This simple tip will help them avoid tripping on any objects that might be in their way and hard to see. Some ways to keep your house well-lit include:

  • Using night-lights and lamps in dark areas.

  • Creating clear paths to light switches.

  • Turning lights on before entering dark rooms or traversing stairways.

  • Keeping flashlights where they are easily accessible.

6. Increase their balance and stability.

You can do this by getting assistive devices such as canes and walkers, hand rails, raised toilet seats, and grab bars for the shower and tub. They can also become more sure-footed by improving their lower body and upper body strength.

It is not enough to just know how to prevent a fall. Seniors also need to know how to eliminate, or at least reduce, the risk. The balance program I teach my clients has had much success.

Case In Point

I have a 68-year-old client who, after six months of working with me, can now cross over low hurdles or other obstacles backwards, sideways, and forward without any balance problems.

Not only has his strength and balance improved, he also has less knee pain and is more confident in the way he walks.

Now, it’s time to work on my mom . . .