Preventing Falls 
Keeping Active Can Help Reduce Risk of Falling for Elderly

As we age, our risk of falling and being injured increase. After age 65, your risk of falling is about one in three. These falls may result in broken bones or other injuries that lead to declining health, isolation and a loss of independence.

Aging brings many physical changes including slowed reaction times and a decreased sense of balance. Many medications including diuretics, sedatives and high blood pressure medications can alter your sense of balance. Health conditions that affect older adults such as cataracts, glaucoma, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, congestive heart failure, heart arrhythmias, emphysema, arthritis and nerve damage can increase your risk of falls.

Exercise helps

While your risk of falling increases with age, you can take steps to help prevent falls. First talk with your doctor. You may need to have your vision as well as your balance and movement checked. Your prescription medications may need to be changed.

Many people can reduce their risk of falls by exercising, improving their balance and implementing safety measures at home.

One of the best exercises to help prevent falls is walking. You should walk regularly to avoid getting rusty. Water or pool exercises also can help prevent falls by helping you practice the skills needed for walking.

Improving your balance

To improve your balance and coordination, practice standing on one leg for short periods. You can hold onto a chair while you’re doing this to help keep your balance. You also might consider taking Tai Chi classes. This ancient Chinese discipline involves slow, dance-like movements that help relax and strengthen muscles and joints. One sturdy indicated that Tai Chi may help reduce your risk of falls by more than 47 percent.

Home safety tips

Some simple changes in your home also can reduce your risk of falls. Here’s a checklist:

  • Keep electrical and telephone cords out of the way.
  • Arrange furniture so you can easily move around it.
  • Don’t use throw rugs. All carpeting should be secured to the floor.
  • Use a step-stool to reach something from a high shelf or move items to lower shelves.
  • Install grab bars on walls around the tub and beside the toilet.
  • Use nonskid mats or adhesive strips on surfaces that will get wet.
  • Put a light switch and the telephone within reach of your bed.
  • Use a nightlight between the bedroom and bath.
  • Keep stairs and hallways clear of clutter.
  • Install handrails on both sides of the stairway.
  • Wear rubber-soled shoes that have low heels.

To learn more about what you can do to prevent falls, call Pinecrest Rehabilitation Hospital at Delray Medical Center at 1-800-686-7632.