How to Avoid a Fall: 5 Tips to Support Quality of Life
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans ages 65 and older have a one in four chance of falling. Every 19 minutes, an older adult will die as a result of a fall. There is good news, though. Research shows that, with a little work, the risk of falls can decrease.
Many things can lead to falls, especially as we get older. But anyone can get hurt from a fall. Poor eyesight, loss of balance, and certain medicines are a few common causes. Not having enough strength or flexibility, poor footwear, and clutter in the walking areas at home also cause falls.
Falls can impact the mobility and quality of life of older adults. Doing regular physical activities that include endurance, muscle strength, and balance activities reduce the risk of fall-related injuries.
A physical therapist can help you avoid or recover from a fall. Physical therapists are movement experts. They are trained to help you improve your strength, balance, and ability to be independent. Physical therapists create treatment plans based on your unique needs that include hands-on care, patient education, and prescribed movement. They help improve your quality of life.
You can contact a physical therapist directly for an evaluation. To find a physical therapist in your area, visit Find a PT.
Check out these tips to help limit your chances of a fall that could lead to injury, a hospital visit, or worse.
5 Tips To Prevent Falls
1. Maintain mobility and improve strength.
Stay active by doing physical activities that you enjoy. Take part in tai chi, yoga, or walking. Doing so will help you keep your strength, flexibility, coordination, and balance. It also can reduce your fear of falling. But check with your doctor or physical therapist first to see what types of activities are safe for you.
2. Get a falls screening.
Ask your doctor or physical therapist about a falls screening. A trained health care provider can assess your falls risk and work with you to find ways to decrease your risk for falling. Let them know if you have any dizziness, loss of balance, or trouble seeing. Make sure to tell them if you fell in the last year.
3. Mind your medications.
If you take more than four medicines (prescribed or over the counter), your risk for falling is higher. Many drugs can cause you to be dizzy, lose your balance, have blurry vision, and much more. If you have any of these symptoms, review your medications with your pharmacist. Then, talk to your doctor about whether a change is right for you.
4. Eliminate hazards around your home.
Look around your home with a friend or family member to identify anything that could cause you to trip or slip. Throw rugs, clutter, poor lighting, and even wobbly furniture or handrails could cause a fall. If you cannot fix or remove the items yourself, ask a friend or family member to help.
5. Improve home safety.
Add a secure grab bar in the tub or shower and next to the toilet. A bar will give you sturdy support to hold on to when the floors or your feet are slippery. Check with your doctor or physical therapist about any programs near you that offer home safety assessments. Your area agency on aging may be another source of help or support.
Visit our Health Center on Falls for more information.
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United States Senate Special Committee on Aging Report. Falls Prevention: National, State, and Local Solutions to Better Support Seniors. https://drive.google.com/viewerng/viewer?url=https://www.aging.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/SCA_Falls_Report_2019.pdf. Published October 2019. Accessed October 25, 2019.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Falls reported by state. https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/fallcost/falls-by-state.html. Accessed October 25, 2019.
US Department of Health & Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. 2nd ed. https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/be-active/physical-activity-guidelines-for-americans/index.html.
Reviewed in 2020 by Jennifer L. Vincenzo, PT, MPH, PhD, board-certified clinical specialist in geriatric physical therapy, on behalf of APTA Geriatrics, an academy of the American Physical Therapy Association.