Tuesday, December 7, 2010

How to Help Prevent Falls

We all suffer from falls now and then, but the consequences for the elderly can be severe, resulting in fractures and immobility. This places even more responsibility on their caregivers too.

The Centers for Disease Control's National Center for Injury and Prevention years ago created a brochure on How to Prevent Falls Among Seniors. We thought we'd outline those tips here for those who may be noticing their loved one falling more than usual.

Make sure your loved one gets regular exercise.
Exercise is one of the most important ways to reduce the chance of falling. It makes you stronger and helps you feel better. Exercises that improve balance and coordination (like Tai Chi) are the most helpful. similarly, the lack of exercise leads to weakness and increases your chances of falling.

Make your home safe.
About half of all falls happen at home. You should:
--Remove things you can trip over (such as papers, books, clothes, and shoes) from stairs and places where you walk.
--Remove small throw rugs or use double-sided tape to keep the rugs from slipping.
--Keep items you use often in cabinets you can reach easily without using a step stool.
--Have grab bars put in next to your toilet and in the tub or shower.
--Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors.
--Improve the lighting in your home. As you get older, you need brighter lights to see well. Lamp shades or frosted bulbs can reduce glare.
--Have handrails and lights put in on all staircases.
--Wear shoes that give good support and have thin non-slip soles. Avoid wearing slippers and athletic shoes with deep treads.

Have your health care provider review medicines.
Have your doctor or pharmacist look at all the medicines your loved one is taking, including over-the-counter drugs such as cold tablets. As we age, the way some medicines work change. Some medicines, or combinations of medicines, can make you drowsy or light-headed which can lead to a fall.

Get your vision checked.
Your parent or spouse may be wearing the wrong glasses or have a condition such as glaucoma or cataracts that limits their vision. Poor vision can increase your chances of falling.

Source: Centers for Disease Control