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Catch Yourself: A Beginner’s Checklist to Prevent Falls at Home

Do you notice a difference in your body now than when you were younger? Of course – we all do! As you age, your body inevitably changes. In your youth, you depend on your strong muscles and reflexes to quickly regain your balance after tripping or bounce back after an injury. But as you get older, your body and reflexes weaken, or even become absent, thus increasing the rate of falls and permanent damage to your body.

According to the CDC, one out of four people over 65 years of age fall each year and even after one fall, the chances of falling again increases by 50%. Gradual physical changes, caused by our lifestyle and overall health, can make accidental falls at home more likely, thus presenting the need for preventive measures.

If you want to feel safe and reduce your risk of falling at home, get started by implementing these four easy steps:

Complete a Safety Assessment of Your Home
The first step to creating a safer home environment is to assess its current condition. Complete a thorough inspection of your home to ensure all safety hazards are removed and/or fixed.

  • Do you have proper lighting? Aging adults tend to have impaired eyesight which affects their peripheral vision and depth perception, so install quality lighting in main areas such as hallways, rooms, stairs, and bathrooms. This will allow you to see where you are going, especially during the nighttime.
  • Are your floors cluttered? It is easier to trip and fall if you have various items along the main walking paths in your home. Remove all clutter and tripping hazards (clothes, décor, shoes, cords, boxes, pet toys, etc.) so that you can move around your home freely without an unwanted accident.
  • Is your tub or shower slippery? Explore various non-slip options to install in your tub or shower, such as non-slip strips or treatments, to nix the slip while going about your daily routine.

Ask Your Doctor or Pharmacist About the Effects of Your Medications
Go over the list of all your medications if you are taking four or more drugs. Side effects and the combination of certain medications may not only make certain medicines ineffective, but can also be harmful.

Check Your Vision
Annual eye exams are even more essential as you reach your senior years. Studies show that sight loss can impact your balance, movement, and the habits you generally use to navigate your environment. People with poor or impaired vision can lack stability when stepping up and down, or are unable to foresee obstacles, thus increasing the risk of trips and falls. If you find that your vision has changed recently, consult with your optometrist about options for better eyesight.

Incorporate Balancing Exercises into Workout Routine
Did you know that regularly engaging in a moderate exercise program can improve your overall balance and movement on a day-to-day basis, making you less prone to falls? Acquiring the help of a physical therapist can be just what you need to get back on track, as your physical therapist will guide you through useful balancing exercises to improve your posture, gait, and coordination. Want a customized plan just right for you? Your exercise program can be personalized based on your ability and the level at which you need to improve your static (stationary) and dynamic (moving) balance skills. You should have a tried and trusted physical therapist on your call list just like you have your family doctor, hairdresser, plumber and such service people to help you take care of your health and home. Call your physical therapist today.

Live better by keeping your humble abode and body in tip-top shape. Getting started is easy as 1-2-3-4 – make a plan to check off each task on the checklist and you will begin to gain more confidence and reduce the likelihood of injury as you go about your daily life.

We’d love to hear from you! Share how you’re taking action to prevent falls in the comments below.

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