According to the National Safety Council, slips and falls cause more hospital admissions, injuries, and deaths to older adults than any other mishap or malady. The changes that occur as we age often contribute to the act of falling and to the injury sustained. But there are ways that we can make ourselves stronger, and our homes safer, so that slips and falls are not inevitable.
Keep Your Body Strong
Stay fit. Work with a physician to establish an exercise program designed especially for you. It is particularly important to maintain muscle mass and flexibility.
Consider diet and nutrition; calcium-rich foods should be a staple of your diet.
Wear prescribed eyeglasses and hearing aides and have your eyes and ears checked regularly for any changes.
Educate yourself about the medications prescribed to you. Find out whether side effects include dizziness or disorientation and inquire about alternatives.
No more than two alcoholic beverages should be consumed a day.
Think and Act Safely
Don’t leap out of bed or up from the sofa. Sit for a moment and allow your blood pressure to stabilize before standing.
Temperature affects the body. Monitor temperatures in your home so you are not too hot or cold.
Use assistive devices such as a cane or walker if you feel dizzy or unsteady when walking.
Arrange items in cabinets to avoid having to reach for them. If you must reach items high on the shelf, use a proper stepladder with handrails.
Wear flat, comfortable shoes with nonskid soles. Avoid wearing flimsy slippers or socks on wood or tile surfaces that can be slippery.
Changes In The Home
Eliminate area rugs in high-traffic areas such as hallways, at the bottom or top of stairs, and on tile, slate, or marble floors at entry doors.
If you must have area rugs, be sure they have nonslip backing material or are firmly attached to the floor.
Stair treads should be kept well lit and clear of debris. If you choose to carpet treads, select a firm, thin pad and tightly woven carpet. (Thick padding and carpet will interfere with firm footing.)
Keep floors free of clutter, electrical cords, and telephone and cable wires.
Provide sufficient space to move freely throughout the home; pathways should be at least 32 inches wide and free of jutting furniture and obstacles on the floor.
Rooms should be well lit, with ample wall switches that allow you to turn off the light as you leave the room.
A telephone and a light within easy reach of the bed are prudent and provide a sense of well-being.