HOPE HEALTH COLUMN: - Tips for seniors to prevent falls
As we age, our bodies wear down and become easier to injure. While a tumble in the kitchen in our 20s or 30s can be painful (and maybe a little embarrassing), the same fall for a senior living alone can be devastating, potentially leading to declining health, loss of independence, or worse – death.
IF you are a senior, a person with limited mobility, or a caregiver for someone at risk for falls, there are some things you can do to help prevent falls while promoting an overall healthier well-being. If you have a history of falls or a fear of falling, explore causes and patterns. Ask yourself:
• Are the walkways uneven?
• Do you have to navigate a dark room or hallway to reach a light switch?
• Are there frayed rugs or carpeting that may trip you?
• Are walkways clear? Seniors should also make their living areas safer. Here are a few suggestions:
• Use lighting and assistive devices like walkers to create a safer home environment. • Get repairs made where possible.
• Replace light switches with sensors that can turn the lights on for you
. • Remove trip hazards, such as rugs.
• Clear walkways of obstacles like boxes and stacks of magazines. Staying healthy and active can also help prevent falls. Getting enough sunlight, eating enough, and maintaining a healthy weight all help lower fall risk. Communicate with your providers to best manage your health and let them know about any changes.
• Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, and ask your healthcare provider to check for osteoporosis to help prevent broken bones if a fall should occur.
• Ask your health care provider if a Vitamin D supplement can benefit you. While medications are a common and necessary tool for helping seniors manage medical conditions, they can also contribute to falls. • Take all medications as directed
• Talk to your provider about stopping any unnecessary medications • Review your medications annually with your pharmacist and health care provider during your annual wellness visit
• Always talk with your provider before stopping any medication
• Medication alternatives such as yoga, massage, and meditation can help manage anxiety, pain, insomnia, and other conditions as well as help you maintain balance.
By following these recommendations, you can improve your quality of life and safety.
If you would like to learn more about services for seniors, contact HopeHealth at (843) 667-9414 or visit hope-health.org.
Dana Jones is a family nurse practitioner with HopeHealth in Florence.