Preventing Falls Among Older Adults

Here are five of the best ways to prevent a fall, according to the National Council on Aging:

  1. Have a home safety evaluation. Talk with your primary care doctor to see if they know of someone who will conduct an in-home safety evaluation of your home. An assessment can help you identify potential hazards such as cluttered rooms, poor lighting, and thresholds that need repair.
  2. Encourage physical exercise. Older adults are often afraid to exercise because they believe it puts them at greater risk for a fall. This is especially true of older adults who have experienced a fall or near fall. In fact, just the opposite is true. Maintaining muscle mass, core strength and flexibility all help to improve balance, which is key to preventing falls. Experts typically recommend a combination of light muscle work and no-impact cardio. Talk with your physician to get their approval and recommendations.
  3. Assure you have adequate lighting. This is often overlooked when evaluating a home for safety, but good lighting is a necessary fall prevention practice. Make sure all stairways have light switches at the top and the bottom. Have night lights in place in rooms you are most likely to use after dark such as the bathroom, hallways and kitchen. Seniors have notoriously bad sleeping habits, so it is important to find ways to provide automatic lighting in key areas to keep safe if you get up at night.
  4. Install sturdy grab bars and handrails. Walk through your home and evaluate places like flooring transitions, where even a single step is present, and locations you go from a seated to a standing position. Is there something secure to hold on to in all of those spots? If not, you may compensate by grabbing on to the back of a chair that could tip over, or to a towel bar that isn’t strong enough to hold your weight.
  5. Use assistive devices. Many of the falls older adults take happen because they aren’t using a cane or walker their physician has ordered for them. This is especially true while they are in their own home. Use assistive devices 100% of the time, remembering that most falls and fatal injuries for seniors happen at home.

To learn more about how good fall prevention practices have helped seniors, visit the National Council on Aging website.

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