Fall Prevention Tips that Can Keep Seniors Stay Independent

Falls are a leading cause of hip fractures and brain injuries in older adults – and they are easy to avoid. Here are a few tips to keep you steady on your feet:

Check Your Medication

Talk to your doctor about reducing medication that causes dizziness or disorientation. In one study, the Centers for Disease Control found that more than half of all older adults used at least one medication whose side effects were linked to falls. Those tend to be medications for anxiety and depression.

Check Your Eyesight

Get your eyes checked if you aren’t seeing as well as you once did.
If you need only the cheap nonprescription magnifiers sold in pharmacies, don’t wear them around the house. They can cause you to misjudge distances and fail to see obstacles.

Let Go of Expectations

Getting older doesn’t mean you’re more likely to fall. But carrying around the expectation that you will may lead to more falls. Pay attention to your surroundings – and don’t carry more than you should. For example, make extra trips to the car to get groceries instead of trying to bring them in at once. Don’t walk to the basement while you’re talking on your phone.

Use an Assistive Device

Use a cane or walker you aren’t fully confident in your steadiness. They are cheap and will keep you out of the hospital.

Remove Obstacles

Look around your living space to find tripping hazards. Making simple changes go a long way:

  • Remove or tape down throw rugs.
  • Coil or tape cords and wires to the wall in high-traffic areas.
  • Use non-slip or self-stick mats on the shower or tub floor.
  • Use bright lightbulbs.
  • Place nightlights along the path you walk at night and in the bathroom; if you don’t have electrical outlets, use battery-operated ones.
  • Place your reading lamp close the bed so you don’t have to reach far
  • Install grab bars for support in or near the tub, shower and toilet.
  • Secure handrails or banisters that are loose.

Practice Balance

Older adults should do balance exercises three or more times a week. They can be done while standing at the sink, waiting in line or brushing your teeth. No equipment is necessary:

  • Stand on one foot for as long as possible or try holding it for 10 second on each side. Use a wall or chair for extra support, if necessary, holding on with both hands and then one hand and then one finger and then no hands. Do this exercise while working in the kitchen, waiting in line or brushing your teeth.
  • Walk heel to toe for 20 steps. Steady yourself with a wall if you need a little extra support.
  • Walk normally in as straight a line as you can.

The Area Agency on Aging 1-B offers A Matter of Balance: Managing Concerns About Falls, a 6-week workshop to learn fall prevention techniques and tackle falling fears. The class will resume when we can meet in person.

Build Strength and Flexibility

The American Heart Association also recommends yoga and tai chi to help with balance and flexibility. Neither requires expensive classes or equipment. A DVD or online class can get you started.

Other Ways the Area Agency on Aging 1-B Can Help:

Classes Available in Southeast Michigan to Help Seniors Prevent Falls

Our Matter of Balance classes are being scheduled throughout our six-county southeast Michigan region (Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, St. Clair and Washtenaw). This 8-week class meets for 2 hours each week and helps older adults learn how to prevent falls and overcome fear of falling that might be holding them back. These classes are free (but donations welcome!). Classes are in a short pause due to COVID-19, but will be back soon.

Phone Line to Help Connect Elderly with Resources Needed to Stay at Home

Our Information & Assistance Phone Line can help seniors and their family find the local resources and programs that can help. We will listen, ask questions and help you understand your options. We will will see if you qualify for any of our programs and, if needed, refer you to other organizations that can help with in-home care, meals, transportation and more. Call us at 800-852-7795.