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First Day of Fall Highlights Fall Prevention

The first day of fall, September 23, has been declared National Falls Prevention Awareness Day by the National Council on Aging.

The day was observed by communities in more than 43 states to educate seniors about ways to prevent falls – the leading cause of injury and disability in people age 65 and older, WebMD reports.

The likelihood of falling only increases as people get older, but those who have had a stroke or have multiple sclerosis or osteoporosis are also particularly at risk, the news source reports.

Seniors can prevent falls by taking care of their health. They should get their vision and hearing checked regularly and should talk to their doctors about dizziness or unusual weakness, as these could lead to falls. Homes can also be adjusted to prevent falls, though families may also want to consider alternate senior living options for their loved ones if they are not safe at home.

In addition, a doctor may recommend that seniors begin an exercise routine to build muscle tone and improve balance as a result. Seniors should also be aware of  the possible side effects their medications may have that could increase their chances of falling.

Prevention Checklists and Risk Assessments

Seniors can take a number of precautions to prevent falls.

  • Exercise regularly. Do exercises that will increase leg strength, improve balance and increase flexibility. Consider Tai Chi, yoga, and bicycling.
  • Review your medications with your doctor or pharmacist. You’ll want to reduce or eliminate those that cause dizziness or drowsiness.
  • Lower your hip fracture risk by getting daily-recommended levels of calcium and vitamin D. and get screened and treated for osteoporosis.
  • Move furniture that’s in your way. Use double-sided tape so throw rugs won’t slip.
  • Pick up items that are on the floor. Coil telephone and electrical wires next to the wall.
  • Keep items off the stairs. Fix loose or uneven steps.
  • Make sure your stairway is lighted and have switches at the top and bottom of the stairs.
  • Make sure stair carpeting is secure.
  • Make sure stair handrails are secure and that they’re on both sides the entire length of the stairs.
  • Consider a walk in tub to ensure easy entrance and exit.
  • When using a ladder, make sure both feet and at least one hand are on the ladder.
  • Consider buying an alarm you can activate in the event of a fall.
  • Get up slowly when lying down or sitting, making sure that your path is free from clutter and obstacles.
  • Make sure items in the kitchen are within reach. Do you use a step stool in the kitchen? Make sure it is stable before each use.
  • Place a non-slip mat or strips inside your shower or bathtub to help prevent falls. Installing grab bars further decreases the risk of falling.
  • Use a night light in your bedroom. Make sure there is enough light for you to see inside the bedroom and along the way to the bathroom and kitchen.
  • Do you have throw rugs or loose carpeting? Secure the loose carpeting and use double-sided tape on rugs so that they do not slip.
  • See an optometrist or ophthalmologist at least annually to make sure that you do not have vision issues that increase your risk of falling.