Step Up for Fall Prevention
Fall prevention awareness week is September 21-25, 2020. This year has presented many challenges as we deal with the risk for COVID illness, social isolation and disruption of usual routines and physical activities. More than ever, older adults need to be mindful of simple steps they can take to be safe from preventable falls at home and in the community.
Talk it over It is common to worry about risk of falls, but harder to speak up and talk about your concerns with your family or primary healthcare provider. It helps to talk about your health status and medications that may have serious side effects. Be open to problem solving before it adds to your fall risk. Share stories and successes with your friends and neighbors to create a layer of support for fall prevention. There are a number of resources on fall prevention awareness at local, state and national levels to enlighten and guide your discussions.
See the light Stay current with regular eye exams, and use caution with adjusting to new eye glass prescriptions. Use adequate lighting in your home to make night mobility safer. The recent challenges of wearing face masks and coverings can be distracting or cause obstructions to your field of vision. Extra caution may be needed for head and neck movements as you look around, to avoid dizziness.
Create safe spaces Over half of all falls occur in the home. Reduce clutter, select nonslip flooring, and allow for more space to maneuver if you are using an assistive device for walking. Grab bars, stair railings and ramps can accommodate chronic conditions that make moving about your home more of a challenge. Beds, chairs, toilets and showers should all be easy to access without obstruction. Simplify the work spaces in your home so step stools and awkward reaching is avoided.
Keep moving Recovering from a misstep and preventing a fall requires strength, balance, and coordination. Regular exercise is needed to maintain and improve all three of these physical attributes. Becoming and staying active will benefit your health status in many ways- including protection from falls. Focus on leg strength and standing/walking balance as a place to start. There is a wide variety of home and community exercise programs available to fit individual needs. Address physical limitations with appropriate supportive or assistive devices, like a brace or a cane.
Create your own simple steps to prevent falls. Take an interactive self-assessment at
www.ncoa.org/FallsFreeCheckUp, identify your specific areas of concern, and understand why these steps matter for fall prevention. Falls are predictable and preventable – be safe!