HomeHealth Topics A to Z6 Steps to Preventing Falls For Seniors
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6 Steps to Preventing Falls For Seniors

By Laura Marzulli, PT, Sarah Doll, MPT, DPT

Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury for older adults and the most common cause of hospital admissions in the United States.

There are many identifiable risk factors among older adults for falls such as, lower body weakness, difficulties walking and balancing, talk of pain, and the use of daily medication as there are often side effects like feeling dizzy or light-headed. In efforts to reduce these risk factors, the following steps can prevent falls among seniors.  

  1. Discuss their concerns and steps to staying safe.

Many older people worry about falling, but don’t voice their concerns to others; simply asking them if they’re concerned about falling is a great start to creating a plan in case of an accident. After discussion, it is always a good idea to suggest an appointment with their healthcare provider, who can better assess their risk of falling and offer more tactics for help. 

  1. Discuss their current health conditions.

More often than not, falls and other accidents are a result of an underlying health concern that has not been properly addressed. If your loved one is having trouble taking their medication, experiencing side effects, or finding it more difficult to do things that used to be easy, make sure they’ve seen a doctor in the last six months.

  1. Ask about their last eye checkup.

Updating your seniors’ vision prescription can greatly reduce their risk of falling. While making sure they are up-to date on eye checkups is crucial, those really struggling with low vision may need to consult with a specialist for ways to cope with, or strengthen, their eyesight.

  1. Observe their daily routine and habits.

If you notice them holding on to counters or furniture, hesitating to do something, or taking breaks for breath, these could be signs that it might be time to see a physical therapist or primary healthcare provider. A physical therapist can help improve balance, strength, and endurance through exercise. A cane or walker may also be a good alternative to help with strength and balance. A physical therapist should be consulted before initiating the use of a walker or cane to insure proper fit and use of the device.

  1. Discuss their medications.

If your older loved one is having a hard time keeping track of medication or is experiencing side effects, encourage them to discuss their concerns with their doctor and pharmacist. Suggest that they make a spreadsheet and medication schedule, or introduce a timed medication dispenser.

  1. Do a walk-through safety assessment of their home.

There are many simple and inexpensive ways to make a home safer. Some examples are increasing household lighting, securing stairs with rails, and installing grab bars in bathrooms, and removing throw rugs. For professional assistance, it is always a helpful to consult a physical therapist.

We hope these steps can offer some guidance when helping the older adults in your life work towards preventing falls. While many of these steps involve at-home tactics, it is always important to consider finding a physical therapist or healthcare provider to ensure the most successful and long-term health goals are achieved.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment with a physical and occupational therapist, call 630-967-2000 or visit our website at www.dupagemedicalgroup.com/services/physical-occupational-therapy/.

If you would like additional information on the 6 steps for preventing falls, visit the National Council on Aging.

Physicians & Experts

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