How to Prevent Common Falls and Injuries - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on September 10, 2014

How to Prevent Common Falls and Injuries

How to Prevent Common Falls and Injuries

Talk to your primary care physician about
reducing your risk of falling at home.

Accidents and falls can happen anywhere, any time and to anyone. But the risk of falling and getting seriously hurt increases with each birthday. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in three adults age 65 and older falls each year. These spills can cause more than bruises. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in seniors, including head injuries, shoulder and forearm fractures, spine fractures, pelvic fractures and hip fractures.

Instead of fearing that a fall could happen, you can take actions to prevent them and maintain your independence for years to come.

Believe it or not, exercising can help you decrease the risk of falling and getting hurt. Doing mild weight-bearing exercises helps build bone strength and slows bone loss from osteoporosis. If a fall does occur, strong bones are less likely to sustain a fracture. The CDC recommends making sure you take in an adequate amount of calcium and vitamin D as well as getting screened and treated for osteoporosis.

Need to improve your balance and control in order to prevent falling? Tai chi uses slow, flowing movements to help you relax while coordinating your mind and body. Having active hobbies, such as bicycling or gardening, can also strengthen your legs, further preventing a fall.

In addition to exercise, talking to your doctor and pharmacist can decrease your risk of falling. During your annual physical, your doctor will check your blood pressure and examine you for cardiac issues. They can also ensure any canes, walkers or medical equipment are properly sized and fitted.

Poor vision can inhibit your ability to get around safely, so be sure to visit your eye doctor. An annual exam will confirm that your glasses or contact lenses are the correct prescription and you are seeing clearly or be a chance to make any needed adjustments.

Consult with your pharmacist. They can review all of your medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, to identify if your medicines or combinations of them can cause side effects of dizziness or drowsiness.

Wearing the right type of footwear can also keep you from falling. Shoes should fit properly and have nonskid soles. Replace slippers that are stretched out or too loose. If you have trouble putting your shoes on, try using a long-handled shoehorn. And, just like your mother taught you, make sure you shoe laces are tied.

About half of all falls happen at home. To make sure you don’t become part of that injured statistic, check your house for tripping hazards. If need be, add grab bars both inside and out of the tub or shower and next to the toilet, add railings on both sides of your stairs and improve lighting in each room.

Other smart moves include:

  • Removing throw rugs
  • Using double-faced tape, tacks or slip-resistant backing to secure loose area rugs
  • Arranging furniture in a way that creates clear pathways
  • Using nonskid floor wax
  • Using a rubber mat or nonskid adhesive textured strips inside your tub 
  • Not standing on chairs or boxes to reach upper shelves or cabinets

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