Q&A: Avoiding falls when you live alone

Q: I live alone and am worried about falling. What can I do to lower my risk of fall-related injuries? 

A: Mobility, or the lack of it, is one of the biggest determining factors for quality of life and life expectancy. Once a senior falls and sustains an injury, that person may no longer be able to move freely around the house or go shopping. Their ability to do common can vanish.

A fall is the act of unintentionally touching the ground in any way. Most falls occur because of items left carelessly on the ground, or getting tangled in a sheet or blanket on the way out of bed, or slipping getting out of the tub. Fortunately, these scenarios are wholly preventable.

Here are tips recommended by the National Council on Aging to reduce the risk of a fall:

  1. Find an evidence-based balance or exercise program to build strength, stability and flexibility. Exercising is one of the most important ways to lower the chances of falling. It makes you stronger and helps you remain stable. Ask your doctor to recommend a program.
  2. Don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor if you’ve had a recent fall or are worried you might fall. Your doctor can help assess your risk for falls.
  3. Review your medications with your pharmacist or doctor. They will know which medications may cause dizziness, increasing your risk of falling. They may be able to find a safer alternative.
  4. Get your hearing and vision checked regularly. Our eyes and ears are the primary senses we use to experience the world. Hearing aids and glasses enhance your senses as you age and help you stay on your feet.
  5. Keep your home safe by removing items you may trip over. Install grab bars in the shower and use bath mats to prevent slipping and sliding on a wet floor. Make sure throw rugs are fixed to the floor. Make sure your home is well lit.
  6. Talk to your family if you need support. The last thing anyone wants to hear is that a loved one fell and was injured.

 

Kimberly Everett is the trauma prevention coordinator at St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne, Pa.