September 22, 2017 marks the 10th annual Fall Prevention Awareness Day, also the first day of fall. The theme for 2017 is 10 Years Standing Together to Prevent Falls. Statistics from the National Council on Aging show that every 13 seconds, an older adult is seen in an emergency department for a fall-related injury. This is a strikingly large number especially because falls are easily preventable.
Keep Aware of Your Surroundings
By simply being aware of your surroundings you may lower your risk of falling. We spend a majority of our time in our homes and by making sure the home is equipped to prevent falls the lower the chance of falling becomes. These preventative measures may include being aware of where you are walking to ensure you know when surfaces may become uneven and making sure to leave paths cleared throughout your home to avoid unnecessary falls. Tripping over shoes or other loose items are common pitfalls that lead to falling so staying organized is beneficial. Keeping a mat in the bathtub and having hand rails installed to help with balance and prevent slips will also be helpful.
If you are out of your house it is important to wear proper shoes depending on the activity you are participating in. Shoes are a significant source of support for balance and depending on the weather different shoes should be worn. Additionally, the use of an assistive device if you have trouble balancing or walking on your own may make a difference. These devices, such as a cane or walker will provide balance and keep you from becoming unsteady. Utilizing handrails when available especially when going up and down stairs will also reduce the hazardous risk of falling.
Maintaining your health is another way to avoid a potential fall. It is crucial to be up to date with your vision prescription as advised by an eye doctor and with hearing. Without the ability to see clearly confusion about your surroundings may occur. Talk to your loved ones about the medications you take especially if you are experiencing side effects because this can lead to dizziness or other ailments and may ultimately result in a fall. By speaking with a pharmacist or a doctor about your experiences you can work on resolving your symptoms to feel better and avoid a potential fall.
An important focus on preventing falls is by anticipating what may happen next. Looking ahead while you walk to avoid cracks in a sidewalk, wearing sunglasses on a bright day to reduce glare, and wearing appropriate shoes after it has rained are just a few of the measures that can be taken to prevent a fall.
Be Proactive To Avoid Preventable Injuries
In anticipation that a fall may still occur despite these preventative measures, it can be lifesaving to have access to be able to communicate to emergency responders immediately. Keeping a cell phone nearby at all times or wearing a necklace with a button to push if you fall and are injured will help save your life. Unfortunately, a not so infrequent scenario is when a person has fallen, oftentimes alone in their home, and they are unable to move and are too far away from a phone to call for help. Being proactive about preventative measures to have easy access to communicate can be the difference between life and death.