Fall prevention strategies aren’t something that can wait until the weather cools off or when the warm and sunny weather starts. It’s important to start now so you don’t have any accidents, no matter what the season!
This blog post is for you if you’re a baby boomer and want to stay safe all year.
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Here are 6 Simple But Effective Fall Prevention Strategies You Can Implement Now:
1. Get your vision and hearing checked. Update your eyeglasses prescription.
This strategy is easy to do. That is why it is also easy NOT to do!
As you grow older, small, subtle, or seemingly insignificant changes in your body can have a significant impact on your sense of balance and equilibrium. Updating your eyeglasses and having your hearing checked is a sure way to “calibrate” your tools so you can function at your tip-top shape all year round.
2. Review your medications with your doctor or pharmacist.
If you are taking 4 or more medications (also called polypharmacy), you are at a higher risk of falling.
Some medications meant to treat your heart condition, regulate your blood pressure or blood sugar levels, improve your mood or sleep, and other prescription or even over-the-counter medications may have unintended side effects that affect your balance and equilibrium.
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if there are ways to change or manage the dosage or schedule of your medications and reduce your risk of falling.
3. Keep your home safe.
As the expression goes, “What we often look at, we often cease to see.” is true with the fall hazards at home.
I call these fall hazards extrinsic fall risk factors. Extrinsic, or external, means factors outside of your body – these are things and objects around your house that pose a fall risk for you.
A loose handrail in the shower, a slippery kitchen floor, the crimp edges of your area rug. Small things that add up to pose a real risk of falling for you or your loved one.
4. Talk to your healthcare provider.
According to this often-quoted study, millions of older adults fall each year but less than half tell their doctors.
Be your own strongest healthcare advocate! Ask your doctor to perform a fall risk assessment with you and discuss fall prevention strategies he/she can suggest. What you and your doctor don’t know can certainly hurt you. Don’t just listen to your doctor, ask questions.
5. Talk to your family members.
I love what motivational speaker and author Les Brown once said, “Ask for help not because you’re weak, but because you want to remain strong.”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had patients blaming their family members for not helping, and family members blaming their loved ones in return for not asking for help.
Talking to your family members about fall prevention strategies you need to implement is the bridge between confusion and clarity – the difference between falling and not falling.
6. Find a good balance and exercise program.
Look to build your strength and improve your balance and coordination.
Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who overcame asthma and became an Olympic track and field gold medalist, said succinctly, “Age is not a barrier – it’s a limitation we put on our mind.”
It is true. We do not stop exercising because we grow old. We grow old because we stop exercising. Exercise can be your most effective fall prevention strategy.
Find a balance and fall prevention program you like and bring a friend!
Elizabeth had just turned sixty-five and about to retire from her career as a grade-school teacher when she was starting to worry about her balance.
She had never been a risky person, but she couldn’t help but feel like she might fall over the next time someone bumped into her in the grocery store. A coworker at work recommended an effective balance and fall prevention class that they were taking jointly.
Elizabeth’s friend told her it would be easy for a woman of their age, explaining that the instructor made them do exercises where they’d lie on their backs with one leg propped up against something or sit on chairs while balancing things on their feet — easy stuff that helped your muscles stay strong!
After hearing this recommendation, Elizabeth signed up herself as well.
This was twenty-five years ago. Elizabeth has kept on with the balance exercise classes and proudly reported to me that she had not experienced any falls since.
Do you know of a friend or loved one who would benefit from this article? Consider sharing this article with them.
Dr. Lex Gonzales, PT, DPT is an author and speaker who has been working as a licensed healthcare professional for over 24 years. On drlexgonzales.com he provides quality information and practical solutions you can use to achieve the best version of your healthy self.