Stand up for safety with some suggestions on how to avoid falls

November 03, 2010

Clutter can cause falls

A nasty spill can cause serious injury and disability, especially for the elderly. In fact, studies have shown that about 1 out of 10 falls can cause broken bones, head injuries, bruising, and even make it harder to move around. Fortunately, by taking a few simple steps, you can prevent falls for yourself and the ones you love.

It all starts at home

When a person falls, it's usually because of small hazards that are easy to miss. And most of the time they're easy to fix as well. Things around the house such as area rugs, children's toys, papers, cords, wires, and even pets can cause you to stumble or lose your balance. Do a home inspection.

Removing these items from high-traffic areas and keeping floors free of clutter can lower your risk of falling a lot. Also, make sure your stairways are clear, have handrails, and are well lit. And never go anywhere at home if you can't see where you're going.

For a handy checklist, visit www.cdc.gov/ncipc/pub-res/toolkit/CheckListForSafety.htm

Talk to your doctor about medicines or conditions that might cause you to fall

  • Common side effects of many medicines are dizziness or fuzziness in your head; this can happen even with over-the-counter medicine
  • The more medicine you take, the higher your risk of falling
  • Tell your doctor about any pain, dizziness, vision problems, shortness of breath, or numbness
  • Talk to your doctor about any medical conditions that might put you at a higher risk of falling

Get out and get active

Physical activity can lower the risk of falling by boosting strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, and endurance. Physical activity can be as simple as gardening or walking the dog and doesn't have to be planned. Exercise, on the other hand, is repetitive and structured. Things like tai chi or aerobics are two great ways to exercise while lowering your risk of falls at the same time.

Exercise also helps you manage and prevent some diseases. It can boost your overall mood and help prevent depression. Above all else, find something you love doing and make it part of each day.

Talk to your doctor about what exercises or physical activities are best for you. Your doctor can also examine your muscle strength, balance, and how you walk.

Other steps you can take to keep from falling:

  • Get your sight checked at least once a year by an eye doctor
  • Wear shoes, slippers, or sandals that fit, and wear them both indoors and outdoors
  • After lying down or sitting, get up slowly

Remember: talk to a doctor, tidy up at home, get active. With the right steps, you can lower your risk of getting hurt by falls and spills

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