For seniors and the elderly, “Balance Awareness Week” is a time to think about how to avoid serious injuries from falling. Balance Awareness Week is Sept. 18-24 this year.
Main things to consider when you think about how to avoid falls are checking with your health care provider, balance awareness, and exercise. It’s natural as you grow older that changes to your health and body, coupled with side effects from some medications you may take, can make falls a hazard.
With that in mind, here are six tips on avoiding falls.
—Schedule a visit to your health care provider. This is step one. Your doctor can assess your risks. They can check your medications and determine if they have side effects that can increase your risk of falling. You may need to change your medications.
Other questions you may need to answer include:
—Have you fallen previously?
—Was there a time you were able to prevent a fall?
—What are your health conditions?
Eye or ear disorders may lead to falls. Dizziness, balance issues, pains in your joints, shortness of breath, or any numbness in your extremities are other dangers. Your health care provider can help assess your balance, muscle strength, and gait.
—You may need a walker or another assistive device. You may need to stay balanced with a cane or a walker. It may also help to have handrails on both sides of the stairway, or nonslip treads on steps, or a raised toilet seat or one that has armrests. You may also need a grab bar for your shower or tub and a sturdy plastic seat in the shower or tub.
—Wear proper footwear. Think of this as good footwear helps keep you upright. Footwear such as high heels, slick soles, for floppy slippers can cause you to stumble or fall. Be cautious about walking around in your socks. Wear shoes that fit properly, have a low profile, are sturdy, and have nonskid soles.
—Stay active. Maintaining good balance can start with physical activity. Talk to your health care provider about it. Regular walking, doing activities in the water, practicing tai chi or other movement activities, or yoga can help with your balance. Your strength, coordination, and flexibility also benefit.
—Have a well-lit living space. Keeping your living areas illuminated helps you to see objects before they trip you up. Plug in night lights and have a lamp next to your bed. Make sure light switches are easy to access. You might also need a flashlight within reach if you get up at night or lose power.
—Clear away household hazards. Do a check of your living space to see if you have hazards for falls. Clear you hallways and walking paths. Secure your rugs and have your items like dishes, food, and bathroom items within easy reach. Put nonslip mats in your tub or shower. Make sure to quickly clean up things that spill like liquids, grease, or food.
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