Each year, one out of every three older adults experiences a fall, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While icy weather is certainly a culprit, many of these falls occur at home – and can often be prevented. Here are seven ways to prevent household falls:
- Watch out for pets. “Pets are one of the biggest causes of household falls,” says Heidi J. Hunter, MD, physical medicine and rehabilitation physician at Saint Francis Medical Center. “You do not need to get rid of your pets, but if they are becoming a problem, enroll them in an obedience training course. You should also watch out for their toys, which can be a major tripping hazard.”
- Clear up your clutter. Household clutter and rugs can also cause falls. Older adults should keep their living areas as open as possible and rug-free.
- Exercise. An exercise routine can help you increase your leg strength and improve your balance. “If you do not already exercise, start small,” advises Hunter. “But when those exercises become easier for you, be sure to increase the difficulty level.”
- Check your prescriptions. Work with your doctor to find medications that do not cause dizziness or drowsiness. Often, these side effects can occur suddenly, causing you to take a hard fall.
- Install grab bars. These bars are especially helpful inside and outside the bathtub and next to the toilet. “The bathroom is one of the most hazardous areas of the home for older adults,” says Hunter. “Make sure you use a mat when you are showering or taking a bath.”
- Turn on the lights. You should have bright lights at the top and bottom of stairs and in doorways. Ensure that you can turn on a light when you enter a room so you do not have to cross the room in the dark.
- Check your eyes. See your optometrist at least once a year to check your prescription.
For more information, call 573-331-3000.