Tips from Quail Summit

Preventing Falls and Improving Health

Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of injury deaths, unintentional injuries, and hospital admissions for trauma. Falls can take a serious toll on older adults’ quality of life and independence. Falls are not an inevitable part of aging and there are many ways to help prevent them. Falls threaten seniors’ safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs. However, falling is not an inevitable result of aging. Through practical lifestyle adjustments, evidence-based falls prevention programs, and clinical-community partnerships the number of falls among seniors can be substantially reduced.

There are several steps that can be taken to increase safety. Making changes to your home – also known as home modifications – can make activities easier, improve your health and wellness, and reduce your chances of falling. These changes can include removing hazards, adding supports such as handrails, or changing how or where you do activities.

Below are some suggestions to make your home safer:

  • Keep pathways clear
  • Be aware of uneven surfaces
  • Keep frequently used items close by to reduce the risk of loosing your balance
  • Light your way-install bright lights, have switches at both ends of stairways, and use night lights to light the path from your bedroom to bathroom.
  • Add supports in the bathroom- such as a grab bar near the toilet and shower and non-skid strips in the tub
  • Stay safe on the stairs-consider installing handrails on both sides of the stairs.

Medications are important in treating health problems that accompany aging. Often, older adults take many medications to treat chronic conditions such as arthritis, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Prescription and non-prescription medications can have side effects that increase the risk of falling.

Common medications for the following health problems may increase fall risk:

  • Heart and blood pressure
  • Sleep, anxiety, and depression
  • Dementia symptoms
  • Arthritis and pain
  • Bladder control
  • Digestive, stomach, and nausea
  • Blood clots
  • Colds, flu, and allergies

Medication side effects that increase fall risk:

  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, drop in blood pressure when standing
  • Difficulties with balance, slow response to loss of balance
  • Loss of concentration, decreased alertness, and drowsiness