Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospitalization in people 65+. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control more than a quarter of older adults fall each year. Of those falls, one in five causes a serious injury. While many falls don’t cause injuries, falling once doubles your chances of falling again, and fear of falling may lead people to cut down on everyday activities. However, a decrease in activity can mean an increase in weakness which actually increases future risk.
The best thing you can do to prevent injury is to avoid falling in the first place. There are many steps you can take to help prevent falls.
Talk to your doctor. Less than half of people who fall every year tell their doctor. Being open about falls or the fear of falling with your health care team gives them the opportunity to evaluate your risk and recommend specific things you can do to decrease it.
Mind your medications. Some medications, or combinations of medications, can have side effects such as dizziness or drowsiness making falls more likely. Make sure each of your providers know about all the medicines you take including prescriptions, over-the-counter, vitamins and supplements. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medications for side effects or possible interactions.
Get some exercise. Lower body weakness and balance problems both contribute to falls. Work on increasing your strength through activities like walking and water aerobics. In addition, choose activities that can help improve your balance such as tai chi, chair yoga, ballroom dancing and exercise classes that include balance specific exercises.
Keep your vision sharp. Have yearly eye exams and wear glasses or contact lenses with your most up-to-date prescription. Being able to see clearly will help you get around much more safely.
Eliminate hazards at home. Because half of all falls happen at home, a home safety check can go a long way in reducing falls. Fixing potential issues such as tripping hazards, clutter and poor lighting can all help lower the chance of falling. Installing grab bars in the bathroom or railings on stairs is also a great way to decrease your risk.
Don’t be that one out of four who falls this year. Take steps today to reduce your fall risk so you can stay safe, secure and independent tomorrow.
Because preventing falls is much more effective than treating the results of them, SSM Health at Home, in partnership with United Way of Dane County, developed the SAFE at Home program. SAFE at Home provides home safety assessments and medication reviews for Dane County residents ages 60+.
SAFE at Home participants receive:
- Basic in-home safety assessment
- Medication review by a pharmacist
- Safety aids including a pill box and nightlight
- Home safety recommendations
- Information about community resources
- Six months of follow-up by a medical social worker
The program is designed to help participants identify risk factors and advise them on ways to change or modify their environment to decrease fall risk. Our goal is to reduce falls, helping people live safely and independently in their own homes for as long as possible.
SAFE at Home is available for Dane County residents ages 60+. Learn more about the program.
Not a Dane County resident or younger than 60? Contact us to set-up an informational visit where we can talk with you about how SSM Health at Home can help.