Stand up to falls: tips to prevent senior slips

Stand up to falls: tips to prevent senior slips

The CDC reports that each year one-third of adults 65 and older fall, putting them at risk for fractures, other injuries and even death. Follow these tips to lessen the likelihood of falling:

Find your footing: Often the fear of falling leads older adults to limit activity, but this can hasten a catastrophic tumble. Instead, commit to an exercise program that improves strength, balance and coordination, such as tai chi.

See the eye doctor: Adults over 65 should get vision checked annually. Consider wearing a separate pair of glasses with distance vision while on the move, instead of trying to look through or over bifocals.

Review your medicines: Ask your doctor or pharmacist about side effects that increase fall risk, such as dizziness or drowsiness, and alternatives.

Take your vitamins: Ask a provider about Vitamin D and calcium to strengthen bones, discussing risks and benefits.

Make your home fall-proof: Remove tripping hazards; amp up lighting; and toss out house slippers in favor of sensible, treaded shoes. Depending upon risk, an occupational therapist can make a house call to suggest further changes.

Want to learn more about prevention and rehab for falls? Read: Serious falls put seniors at risk.

Hire help for home modifications: Seek out a highly rated contractor, preferably with a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist designation, to make necessary changes, such as installing grab bars in the shower, higher toilet seats or a railing on both sides of stairs.

Consider a medical alert system: For seniors aging in place, especially those at higher fall risk, this could prove to be a lifeline, but shop around, test customer service before making any commitment, and try to avoid multi-year contracts.


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Serious falls put seniors at risk


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Pat Pempek, a certified nursing assistant, performs therapy on Chuck Clifford, who suffered a serious fall in 2008. (Photo by Gilbert Boucher)

Chuck Clifford came to lying 
flat on his back on an icy sidewalk, motionless and unable to move his limbs. The life of the Angie’s List member in Mundelein, Ill., changed with a single, fateful slip during 
a 2008 ice storm that fractured 
his neck and came within about 
a millimeter of completely severing 
his spinal cord.

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