For seniors, falls in and around the home are the most frequently occurring accident. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one out of every three adults over age 65 falls each year. Fall rates increase significantly as we advance in age. The National Council on Aging reports that falls are the number one reason why seniors lose their independence – because they are the leading cause of injury and even death among older adults.
A study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the primary way that older Americans can delay or diminish the need to move to a long-term care facility is to prevent falls and the resulting injuries. This is encouraging news because most falls are preventable if certain practical precautions are taken.
Reduce your fear of falling
Seniors often reduce their level of physical activity after a fall for fear of falling again. However, this can make the situation worse. Cutting back on exercise or physical activity leads to a loss of muscle strength, flexibility, balance and gait.
The first step is to reduce your fear of falling by engaging in activities that can help reduce the risk of falls. After consulting your doctor, consider resuming activities such as walking, water workouts, or even tai chi — an exercise that involves slow and graceful movements that resemble a kind of synchronized dance. Activities like these reduce the risk of falls by improving strength, flexibility, balance and coordination. Research also suggests they may help lower blood pressure and improve heart function.
Preventing falls at home
By taking a few modest steps, many falls can be prevented.
1. Make your home safer
About half of all falls happen at home. To make your home safer:
- Reduce tripping hazards – keep cords, papers, books, boxes, plants, shoes and clothes off of the stairs or away from places you walk.
- Either remove throw rugs or use non-skid mats or double-sided tape to keep the rugs from slipping
- Use non-slip mats or appliques on the shower floor or in the bathtub
- Install grab bars in the shower or tub and next to the toilet
- Install handrails and lights on both sides of staircases
- Improve the lighting in your home. As you age you need brighter lights to see better. To reduce glare, hang light-weight curtains or shades
- Keep the items you use most often in cabinets you can reach easily without using a stool or stepladder
- Wear shoes both inside and outside the house. Avoid going barefoot or wearing slippers.
2. Have your vision checked
Once a year have your eyes checked by your eye doctor. You may have developed cataracts or glaucoma or your glasses prescription may have changed. Poor vision increases your chances of falling.
3. Have your doctor review your medicines
Once a year you should have your doctor or pharmacist review the prescriptions and medicines you take, even over–the–counter medicines. As you age, the way medicines affect your body can change. In addition, some medicines, or combinations of medicines, can cause dizziness or drowsiness and cause you to fall.
4. Begin a regular exercise program
Finally, exercise is perhaps the most important thing you can do to lower your risk of falling. Exercise improves your balance and coordination, makes you stronger and helps you feel better. A lack of exercise leads to muscle weakness and an increased propensity for falls. Ask your doctor or health care provider what type of exercise program might be best for you.
If you do fall
LifeCall’s in-home health care monitoring solutions give you the ability to summon prompt assistance right at your fingertips. In the event of a fall you can get help quickly, which reduces medical complications that result from being immobile for prolonged periods of time. LifeCall will get you help in two ways.
The LifeCall Response Center is the only center where all operators are certified Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs). It is powered by a world-class automation platform and two fail-safe redundant systems. The center also has been recognized by Computer World Magazine for its high-tech infrastructure provides fast access to highly trained, caring Response Associates at the push of a button, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Our new LifeCall with FallAlert* option also enables you to push the pendant-style button for help at any time. FallAlert provides additional protection by automatically placing a call for help if a fall is detected and you can’t push your button because you are disoriented, immobilized, or unconscious. This enhanced service option can provide even greater security and peace of mind.
*FallAlert works through sensors that detect a person’s sway, orientation and impact with surface. It does not detect 100% of falls. If you are able after a fall, you should always press the LifeCall button when you need help.
For 40 years LifeCall Medical Alert Systems have provided families with security and independence at their fingertips by offering instant access to EMT-trained emergency personnel around the clock at the push of a button. Falls and strokes are common among seniors – a personal emergency response system can save your life. LifeCall: the most important call you’ll ever make.
 Promoting a National Falls Prevention Action Plan, Research Review Papers, Stevens, Judy, Ph.D, “Falls Among Older Adults – Risk Factors and Prevention Strategies,” page 3.