Six steps toward avoiding falls

Did you know that one in three older Americans falls every year? Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for people aged 65-plus.
Falls can result in hip fractures, broken bones, and head injuries. And even falls without a major injury can cause an older adult to become fearful or depressed, making it difficult for them to stay active.
If you have an aging parent, grandparent, or neighbor in your life, helping them reduce their risk of falling is a great way to help them stay healthy and independent as long as possible.
Common factors that can lead to a fall include balance and gait, vision, medications and chronic conditions.
Here are six easy steps you can take to help your older loved one reduce their risk of a fall:
1. Enlist their support in taking simple steps to stay safe. Askif they’re concerned about falling. Many older adults recognize that falling is a risk, but they believe it won’t happen to them or they won’t get hurt—even if they’ve already fallen in the past. If they’re concerned about falling, dizziness, or balance, suggest that they discuss it with their health care provider who can assess their personal risk and suggest programs or services that could help.
2. Discuss their current health conditions. Find out if they are experiencing any problems with managing their own health. Are they having trouble remembering to take their medications, or are they experiencing side effects? Is it getting more difficult for them to do things they used to do easily? Are hearing and vision changes becoming problematic?
3. Ask about their last eye checkup.Make sure they have a current prescription and they’re using the glasses as advised by their eye doctor.
4. Notice if they’re holding onto walls, furniture, or someone else when walking or if they appear to have difficulty walking or arising from a chair. These are all signs that it might be time to see a physical therapist.
5. Talk about their medications. If your older loved one is having a hard time keeping track of medicines or is experiencing side effects, encourage them to discuss their concerns with their doctor and pharmacist. Suggest that they have their medications reviewed each time they get a new prescription.
6. Do a walk-through safety assessment of the home.There are many simple and inexpensive ways to make a home safer. For instance, increase lighting throughout the house, especially at the bottom and top of stairs. Make sure rails on stairs are secure. And install grab bars in tubs and showers.

Source: National Council on Aging