Falling is one of the most expensive, life-altering, and even deadly health risks facing older Americans. As a matter of fact, about 1 in 3 seniors over 65 will fall this year, with rates steadily increasing with age. A bad fall can lead to a lengthy hospital stay, and result in a permanent reduction in mobility and independence.
Preventing falls should be near the top of the priority list for seniors, as well as their caregivers. Here are some quick tips you can put into practice to help reduce your risk:
- Check your feet. Foot pain and ankle instability can lead to falls, so if you have existing foot or ankle issues—bunions, arthritis, heel pain, wounds, etc.—get them evaluated and treated.
- Check your meds. Certain medical conditions and medications can impair balance, so make a list of what you’re taking and ask your doctor.
- Check your vision and hearing. Reduction in the sharpness of your senses can cause you to miss nearby hazards.
- Practice your balance. Just like any other skill, balance can be improved with practice. As they say, use it or lose it! Performing simple balance exercises every day (with a companion if you need assistance) can make a big difference.
- Get good exercise. In addition to balance practice, maintaining cardiovascular fitness and working on strength, agility, and coordination can greatly help you retain your stability into your later years.
- Wear sensible, rubber-soled shoes. That includes the indoors, too. Rubber helps you avoid slips and stumbles, whereas socks and floppy slippers and sandals are more likely to slip.
- Remove obstacles from your home. Floor clutter, loose cords, low-lying furniture (such as coffee tables and magazine racks) and other tripping hazards should be removed, especially from high traffic areas. Rugs and mats should be removed, or at the very least secured with tape or non-stick backing.
- Light the way. Every room of your home should be well-lit before you enter it. Get nightlights for your hallways, too.
- Use assistive devices in bathrooms and stairwells. Non-skid mats, raised toilet seats, handrails, grab-bars, and other tools make it easier to get up and down safely and securely.
- Keep important items close at hand. Food, clothing, cookware—make sure anything you need to access on a day-to-day basis is kept where you won’t need to stoop, bend, or reach up high to access it. If you can’t reach something, don’t risk it—get help.
If foot or ankle problems are limiting your mobility and putting your stability at risk, make an appointment with Dr. Jyotsna Thapar for a fall prevention screening and treatment options. We serve the Edison, NJ area with offices conveniently located in South Plainfield / Edison and Warren. Call (908) 222-8980 today to schedule.