Family and Consumer Sciences Education: Maintaining Balance & Preventing Falls

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   Fall-related injuries can be serious enough to result in hospitalization and even premature death. People who fall often face major declines in mobility and independence. Falls can be dangerous for anyone, but they are especially serious for older adults, who have a greater chance of falling due to a combination of risk factors. People who fall often face major declines in mobility and independence. In older adults, fracturing a bone could result in a disability. Fall-related injuries can be serious enough to require hospitalization or may even lead to premature death.

   According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), millions of people 65 and older—more than one in four—fall each year. One out of five falls results in a broken bone or a head injury. If you fall once, your chances of falling again doubles.

   Tips for reducing your chances of falling:

•Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce your chance of falling because it strengthens your muscles and can improve your balance and coordination.

•Ask your health care provider what exercise program is best for you and how to begin. Activities such as walking help improve strength, balance, and flexibility.

•Have a pharmacist review your medications, including over-the-counter and herbal remedies, to ensure there are no drug interactions or side effects that may lead to dizziness.

•Have your vision checked yearly. Changes in vision can lead to falls.

•Have your hearing checked yearly. Dizziness can occur with hearing loss. The inner ear is responsible for balance in the body.

•Wear sensible shoes. Choose sturdy shoes and avoid high heels, floppy slippers, and slick soles.

•Make your home safe.

   Home safety checklist:

•The majority of falls occur in the home. Make your home safer to reduce your risk of falling.

•Remove throw rugs or add rubber mats or double-sided tape underneath to secure them from moving.

•Use nonslip, rubber mats, and handrails in the shower or tub.

•Make sure there is enough light in rooms— good lighting can reduce the chance of falls.

•Use a nightlight.

•Keep a charged flashlight near your bed for emergencies.

•Wear shoes that give good support and have nonslip soles.

•Immediately clean up spilled liquids, grease, and food.

•Keep boxes, paper, shoes, or other obstacles away from walkways.

•Remove coffee tables, magazine racks, plant stands, and electrical cords from high-traffic areas.

•Put regularly used items on shelves within easy reach between hip and eye level.

•If you must reach overhead, use a sturdy stool with a handrail.

   Always remember, falls are preventable!