The past week, I have been gathering information for a fall prevention in-service. I have presented fall prevention in-services in the past, but I always like to change the material and update it.
A wonderful fall prevention resource has been published online by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). They provide multiple resources and brochures for consumers and healthcare providers.
If you or a loved one have concerns about falling, I encourage you to visit the website. They have information you can print out and take to your doctor to help you address your concerns and to help make the appropriate referrals and interventions.
I would like to review with you the 4 main interventions that are recommended by the CDC for fall prevention.
1) Begin a Regular Exercise Program
How often do you get physical activity?
Exercise is one of the most important things you can do. It is the one intervention that in and of itself has been proven to decrease falls risk. Lack of exercise/movement leads to weakness, decreased balance, and decreased circulation, which will increase your falls risk and make you more vulnerable to other medical conditions.
You are never too old to start exercising. For fall prevention, focus on lower extremity strengthening and flexibility exercises along with specific balance exercises. If you do not know how to start exercising please consult your doctor and local physical therapist.
2) Have Your Health Care Provider Review Your Medicines
When was the last time you updated your medication list, including any vitamins, supplements and over the counter medication, and reviewed it with your physician?
Make sure your healthcare providers have a complete list of ALL the medications, vitamins, supplements, and over the counter medication you are taking, including the dosage you are taking and how often you are taking each one.
As you get older the way the medication works in your body changes. Before starting any supplements, vitamins, or over the counter medication make sure you check with your health care provider because even vitamins can interact with some medications.
There are certain medications that can increase your risk of falling. If you start any new medication, know what the possible side effects are and if you experience any side effects report them immediately to your physician. Medications that cause dizziness and drowsiness increase your risk of falls.
3) Have Your Vision Checked
When was the last time you had your vision checked?
The CDC recommends those 65 and older have an eye exam every year. Visual acuity <20/40 increases your chances of falling. Don’t assume that vision loss is just a part of getting older and there is nothing you can do about it. Take action as soon as you notice any visual changes.
Depending on your diagnosis, there are programs that can help you compensate for your vision loss. Low Vision Works is one of the programs that has been proven effective for restoring vision and functionality to those who suffer age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa, and certain types of stroke-related vision disabilities.
4) Make Your Home Safer.
Is your home a hazard?
At least one-third of all falls in elderly involve environmental hazards in their home setting. The most common hazard for falls is tripping over objects on the floor. Removing clutter, throw rugs, and cords from pathways will decrease your chances of tripping.
Other things to improve safety in the home:
- Install grab bars next to toilet and in shower/tub
- Use non-slip mat on tub/shower floors
- Install railings along all stairways
- Have adequate lighting, including night-lights and flashlight next to your bed at night
- Place telephone in reach, including next to your bed
- Keep items in cabinet within easy reach, do not use a step stool
- Wear non-slip shoes at all times: shoeless fallers are more likely to experience serious injuries and fractures.
What can you do today to decrease your risk of falls? If you see that you or a loved one are at risk for falling take the necessary steps to improve your safety. Take action before a fall occurs and your health and independence are changed for the rest of your life.
Happy Day! Here’s to Keeping You Safe and Upright!