Easy tips for preventing falls and injuries

Falls among adults, particularly older adults, can have significant and life-changing consequences. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are a leading cause of injuries in older adults. The good news is that falls are not a natural part of aging, and most falls can be prevented.

Knowing how falls happen and taking steps to reduce your risk can greatly improve your safety and well-being.

Let’s explore common causes of falls and how to reduce or eliminate fall risks.

Understanding the causes of falls

Falls can result from:

1. Environmental hazards

Cluttered walkways, poor lighting, slippery floors, and loose rugs are common hazards that can increase the risk of falling.

2. Medicines

Some medicines, especially those with side effects that cause dizziness or drowsiness, can contribute to falls.

3. Physical decline 

The muscle weakness, reduced flexibility, and diminished bone density that often come with aging can increase the likelihood of a fall.

4. Lifestyle 

A lack of physical activity, poor nutrition, and excessive alcohol consumption increase the likelihood of a fall.

5. Medical conditions

Certain medical conditions can affect strength, balance, or mobility, which can make people more likely to fall.

Fall prevention strategies

To reduce your risk of falls and injuries, you can:

1. Fall-proof your home

Ensure you can move around your home safely, comfortably, and confidently. Check this list and make changes wherever possible:

  • Keep floors clutter free.
  • Remove or secure loose rugs so they don’t slide.
  • Install grab bars in the bathroom and put a bathmat or nonslip treads in your tub or shower.
  • Ensure all staircases have handrails and good lighting. Always hold a handrail when using the stairs.
  • Use good lighting all around your house. Place nightlights in key locations.
  • Ensure sofas and chairs are the right height and firmness for you to use comfortably.
  • If you have a cat or dog, know where it is. Furry friends are easy to bump into and trip over.

2. Review your medicines

Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your prescription and over-the-counter medications. They’ll know which ones may increase your risk of falling and if they can be replaced with something that lessens the risk.

3. Exercise regularly

Regular physical activity can improve strength, balance, and flexibility. Activities like tai chi, yoga, and strength training are especially good at preventing falls. Talk with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.

4. Eat well

Eating regular, well-balanced meals will help prevent a drop in blood sugar, which can cause dizziness and falls. A diet rich in calcium and vitamin D is essential for maintaining strong bones and preventing fractures.

5. Stay hydrated

Dehydration can lead to dizziness and an increased fall risk. Men should aim to drink 15.5 cups (124 ounces) of fluid each day, while women should aim to drink 11.5 cups (92 ounces).

6. Limit alcohol consumption

Alcohol consumption impairs judgment and coordination. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.

7. Have your vision and hearing checked

Good vision and hearing will help keep you on your feet. Yearly eye and ear exams can help find and correct any issues and improve your overall safety.

8. Wear the right shoes

Proper footwear is crucial for stability. Wear shoes and slippers that fit well and have nonslip soles and adequate support.

9. See your doctor

Regular checkups allow you to address any issues that could increase your chances of falling. If you’ve had a fall or are afraid of falling, ask your doctor for a risk assessment.

10. Talk with your family

Seek support from family members. This could include encouragement as you start an exercise program or taking on household jobs that involve a fall risk. Remember that falls are not an inevitable part of aging. An approach that includes regular exercise, health and medication management, home safety, and lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of falling and help you enjoy a safer and more active lifestyle.