Fall Prevention in adults
The topic of fall prevention in older adults is seldom talked about. But the increase in the cases of falls among older people demands that we speak and address the issue. Falls are currently the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries and fractures among adults above 65 years in America. Falls are a significant threat to older adults’ health, especially fatal falls that result in broken and fractured bones or head injuries. The fear of falling can also create fear and anxiety and cause older people to avoid activities that require prolonged standing or walking, such as shopping or attending social functions.
While the risk of falling does increase with age, the fear of falling should not limit you from being active or enjoying your life. Below are several preventative measures that can help you remain healthy and independent as long as possible.
- Physical exercises
Physical strength decreases significantly as we get older. Regular physical exercises help improve and strengthen your muscles. Exercising also helps to maintain flexibility in the joints, tendons, and ligaments. With the help of a professional, develop an exercise program that is appropriate for you. It could be simple activities like walking, jogging, or climbing stairs.
- Get an eye test and improve the lighting in your house
Physiological changes to eyes and ears as we age affects our vision and hearing. This can impact balance and cause frequent falls. You may consider getting glasses or contacts to enhance your vision or hearing aids for those with hearing problems. You may also need to light up all areas in your house and remove unnecessary things in the paths that might obstruct your movement.
- Talk with your doctor about existing conditions and medications that you might be using
Some chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart problems are more prevalent among older people. These conditions may require management using different types of medications. Your doctor will review all the prescriptions and the side effects that may increase the risk of falling. Your doctor may also prescribe lower doses of some medications that make you tired and sleepy such as sedatives and antidepressants.
- Keep your bones strong
Older people have weaker bones, which increases the risk of falling. Ensure that you incorporate foods rich in calcium and vitamin D in your meals or take supplements directly. Also, avoid habits that weaken your bones, such as smoking and alcohol consumption.
Other measures that can lower the risk of falling include wearing comfortable shoes and loose clothes, removing things that obstruct your movement around the house, install non-slip floors, and above all, move more carefully and avoid standing up abruptly.
Frith, Karen H., et al. “A longitudinal fall prevention study for older adults.” The Journal for Nurse Practitioners 15.4 (2019): 295-300.
Ogonowski, Corinna, et al. “ICT-based fall prevention system for older adults: qualitative results from a long-term field study.” ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI) 23.5 (2016): 1-33.
Phelan, Elizabeth A., and Katherine Ritchey. “Fall prevention in community-dwelling older adults.” Annals of Internal Medicine 169.11 (2018): ITC81-ITC96.