September 21-25 is National Falls Prevention Week – a great time to remind ourselves of the simple but important things we can do to prevent injury or even death from a fall.
Did you know?
• One in 4 Americans over 65 falls each year.
• Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall.
• Every 19 minutes, an older adult dies as a result of a fall.
• Falls result in more than 3 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 850,000 hospitalizations and more than 29,000 deaths.
• A fall can lead to the need for longterm care, jeopardizing a senior’s ability to age at home.
Not all falls can be prevented, but there are important steps that can improve your safety and the safety of a loved one.
- Get an eye exam – Poor vision can lead to trips and falls. An annual eye exam helps to ensure you have the right prescription and that your eyes are healthy.
2. Turn on the lights – Preventing a fall can be as simple as having enough light to see what’s in front of you. Add a brighter bulb to dark areas and add a nightlight to help you get to the bathroom safely at night.
3. Exercise – Build and maintain balance, strength and flexibility with a regular exercise routine. Silver Sneakers is a free program provided as part of your Medicare Advantage Plan. You can take classes online and have a free exercise kit sent to your home. Learn more at www.silversneakers.com.
4. Check your meds – Medications can cause dizziness, which can lead to falls. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medications and always take medicines only as prescribed.
5. Remove clutter – Remove rugs and other items that could be a tripping hazard. Never leave clothing on the floor or shoes in a spot where they might be stepped on.
6. Drink plenty of water – Dehydration can lead to unsteadiness, which can lead to a fall. Try to drink several glasses of water every day.
7. Avoid stretching for things that are out of reach. Instead, use a grabbing device, such as the one on the left, to safely retrieve items without increasing your risk of a fall.
8. Say NO to flip flops. Choose sturdy, comfortable footwear with closed backs. Flip flops, sandals and clogs are a recipe for disaster.
9. Take is slow! Take your time when standing up from the bed or a chair. When walking, take slow, intentional steps.
10. Take part in CAPABLE! YMOW’s free CAPABLE program can help seniors make changes, including those listed above, that will help them stay safe and age well at home. Call YMOW Occupational Therapist and Director of Clinical Services Bethany Burge today for details! 734-487-9669, Ext. 108.