In the United States, about one in four adults (28%) age 65 and older report falling yearly. With many falls resulting in serious injuries for adults 65 and older, it’s important for seniors and their loved ones to know what they can do to reduce the risk of falling and ensure their living situation is safe in the event of a fall.
Here are a few ways you can help yourself or a loved one stay upright and injury-free:
1. Clear the Clutter
The first step to fall prevention for seniors is removing any obstacles that could lead to a fall (or make it worse if they do fall). Avoid leaving loose objects on the floor such as clothes, books, or shoes. Store everything away and off the floor so it won’t be a tripping hazard at a later time.
You should also make sure all furniture is sturdy or drilled into the wall so that if you or your loved one take an unexpected tumble, furnishings won’t tip and can be used as support. Anything wobbly or sharp-edged should be replaced with more sturdy pieces.
What about pets? Many families grow concerned about their loved ones having pets underfoot if falls are an issue. While this is worth considering, pets also have many health benefits for seniors, so we don’t want to discourage them from getting pets or keeping the pets they already have! Make this part of the conversation and devise a plan to avoid tripping over furry friends.
2. Install Anti-Slip Mats
For areas where the floor can become extra slippery — like the kitchen, entryway, bathrooms, and in baths and showers — invest in sturdy anti-slip mats to install on these slick surfaces.
Place rugs along the hallways and high-traffic areas if you have extra slippery hardwood or tile flooring throughout your home. Ensure the rugs have rubber or anti-slip mats underneath so they don’t slide out from under you unexpectedly! For hardwood steps, install anti-slip treads, either rubber or carpet.
3. Exercise Regularly
Seniors who get regular exercise can stay independent and mobile longer, as their bodies have the strength to support them and the balance to avoid many falls. Practice simple balance and strength exercises at home, or join a local gym to take group classes designed for stability. For those exercising at home, be careful to only partake in exercises that are appropriate for your ability, and make sure you have a way to contact someone in the event of a fall or injury during your workout.
If you or your loved one are part of a senior living community like St. Anthony’s, you may have a fitness center on-site with equipment and classes specifically designed for senior fitness needs! The St. Thomas More Fitness and Wellness Center at St. Anthony’s offers fitness classes for residents of all levels to build strength and balance, including our Sit N’ Be Fit chair exercise class!
4. Move to a Single-Level Home or Apartment
Stairs are a common cause of falls for everyone, regardless of age! If you’ve tripped and fallen on your stairs or even find traversing them increasingly precarious, it might be time to move into a single-level home with no stairs.
Independent living apartments at St. Anthony’s are all single-level and designed specifically for the needs and comfort of seniors ready to retire and enjoy more relaxed, carefree living. If now is the time to move, St. Anthony’s could be an ideal senior living situation for you!
5. Take Care of Your Basic Needs
A lot of fall prevention for seniors comes down to taking care of your basic health needs. In addition to exercising, you can prevent falls by eating a well-balanced diet, staying hydrated, and getting enough sleep — so you don’t fall due to a lack of energy or sudden dizzy spells. You’d be amazed what hydration and protein can do for your physical strength!
6. Get Regular Check-ups
Of course, getting regular check-ups with your primary care physician is important at any age, but even more so for those over 65! Check-ups are an opportunity to assess potential issues that could lead to falls, such as:
- Hearing loss
- Vision failure
- Weakening muscles or bones
- Memory loss
If any of these complications arise in or out of your doctor’s office, it’s worth taking the time to consider how you can treat them to reduce the risk of falling. It also may be time to start thinking about seeking care support through at-home care or a senior living facility.
7. Seek Additional Care
If you have been noticing a change in your balance or vision causing you to fall more often, it may be time to seek out additional care support. This can also be necessary if mobility has become difficult due to arthritis or other physical mobility-altering conditions.
Residents of Assisted Living at St. Anthony’s receive all the support they need not only with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and mobility but also with receiving three dietician-approved meals a day. They also enjoy a community of fellow seniors looking for friendships and a safe, comfortable home. Assisted Living improves the quality of life for seniors by offering them enough support so they canlive with greater independence, all within a loving community.
If you are considering assisted living for yourself or your loved one, give us a call to schedule a tour of St. Anthony’s and get a taste of what your life can be like as part of our family!