Every year, millions of Americans age 65 and older have a fall, and almost 20 percent of those falls result in an injury, like a broken bone. But while these statistics are concerning, there is good news. The National Council on Aging has concluded that adults 65 and over, with the proper care, can expect to live a full, healthy, fall-free lifestyle. Take a look at some of the things you can do to help fall-proof your home and yourself.
Prevent Falls at Home
Your home is more than just a place to live. It’s your retreat — your haven. But most homes have some common hazards that could put you at a higher risk of falling. Consider these simple improvements that can lower your risk.
- Install grab bars near the tub/shower and toilet.
- Remove loose throw rugs.
- Use non-skid mats under area rugs.
- Install railings on both sides of stairs.
- Replace dim lights with brighter bulbs.
- Remove clutter from floors, stairs, and pathways.
- Wipe spills immediately.
Stay on Top of Your Health
Not all falls are due to environmental hazards. Changes in physical strength and vision, as well as medications, can put you at greater risk. Here’s what you can do about it.
- Exercise with a focus on leg strength and balance (e.g. Tai Chi).
- Review your medications with your doctor, including over-the-counter medications you may take, like Advil or Tylenol.
- Protect your vision. Have your eyes checked at least once a year.
Be Wise This Winter
As winter approaches, it’s important to remember that the weather can increase the chance of injury. During the months ahead, follow these safety tips.
- Test the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Replace the batteries every six months.
- If you live in a home with a chimney, have it inspected, as well as your air ducts.
- Be careful to not overload electrical outlets or extension cords.
- Never plug a space heater into an extension cord and never leave a space heater unattended.
- Stock up on some extra food and emergency supplies, so you don’t have to leave the house when the weather is bad.
- Keep emergency phone numbers and medical information in a designated area.
- If you shovel your own snow, exercise caution and use the proper technique:
– Warm up your muscles with some light activities first.
– Push snow away rather than lifting it.
– Bend your knees and lift with your legs when you can, not just your back.
– Dress in layers and remove them as you get warm.
– Stay hydrated and take breaks.
– Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a neighbor.