According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 3 older adults fall each year, causing moderate to severe injuries, such as hip fractures and head traumas. Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries. Most fractures among older adults are caused by falls. In 2013, 2.5 million nonfatal falls among older adults were treated in emergency rooms and more than 734,000 of those patients were hospitalized.
Fortunately, falls are largely preventable. Here are the top ten tips for fall prevention at home.
- Wear secure fitting shoes and check your shoes for loose/worn soles – discard or repair, if necessary.
- Review medications regularly with your doctor and pharmacist to find out if any have side effects or interactions that can cause dizziness or drowsiness.
- Remove loose area rugs throughout the house.
- Check high traffic areas and remove any unnecessary obstacles such as boxes, newspapers, electrical cords, phone cords, etc.
- Use non-slip mats in the bathroom, especially the bathtub.
- Clean up floor spills and large food crumbs immediately.
- Place night lights throughout the house for nighttime navigating.
- Turn on the lights before entering a room or using stairs.
- Store flashlights in easy-to-find places during a power outage.
- Use assistive devices instead of relying on walls and furniture to navigate, such as hand rails for both sides of stairway, raised toilet seat with arms, grab bar in the shower.
If additional help is needed, contact your physician for a referral to an occupational therapist, who can help brainstorm the fall prevention strategies to best suit your needs.