September is Falls Prevention Month, a good time to bring awareness to an issue that affects many older adults. According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), more than one in four people age 65 years or older fall each year. But don’t let your fear of falling stop you from living life boldly! There are steps you can take to prevent falling. The ApexHealth team put together these fall prevention tips for older adults and caregivers.
4 tips to prevent and reduce the risk of falls
1. Review your medications. As the NIA explains, some medications can increase likelihood of falling due to side effects like confusion or dizziness. Talk with your doctor or a pharmacist if the drug you’re taking makes you dizzy or sleepy as this could affect your balance.
2. Exercise to improve muscle strength and balance. Regular exercise can help improve your strength, muscle and balance, all of which help reduce the likelihood of a fall. If you’re looking for resources to help with planning an exercise program that’s right for you, Johns Hopkins Medicine recommends trying sit-to-stand exercises and balance exercises.
3. Get your hearing and vision checked regularly. Vision and hearing problems can also make falls more likely. Make sure you’re up to date on your annual exams! Medicare Advantage plans offer vision and hearing benefits not offered by Original Medicare, including routine coverage for hearing and vision.
ApexHealth’s Medicare Advantage plans include routine eye exams and ApexExtras including a glasses or contact lens allowance depending on where you live and which plan you choose. With ApexExtras, you will also receive first-dollar coverage with an allowance for hearing aids no matter which plan you choose. Compare our plans online or with the help of an ApexAssistant.
4. Keep your home safe. The NIA recommends examining these areas in your home:
- Handrails and support in bathrooms. Handrails on both sides of the stairs can help you safely get from one level of your home to another. Mount rails near your shower and toilet to avoid slipping in the bathroom.
- Lighting. Make sure your home is well lit so you can see any obstacles. Place nightlights by your bed to help you get around at night.
- Clear walkways. Keep electric and phone cords out of the way. Don’t leave shoes, books or clothes on the floor or stairs where they could be a tripping hazard.
If you need more help making sure your home is safe, your healthcare provider may recommend working with a physical therapist or occupational therapist.
5 falls prevention tips for caregivers
If you’re a caregiver, it helps to be familiar with fall risks and prevention techniques. Here are a few fall prevention tips for caregivers to keep in mind:
- Know if the person you’re caring for is at risk. It’s important to be familiar with the medical history of the person you’re caring for. If they’ve had problems with falling in the past, help them follow the steps above to stay safe going forward.
- Help them with mobility exercises. You can help them perform simple exercises like sitting down and standing up in a chair and stretching to help with mobility.
- Learn how to help someone up from the floor. In order to help someone who’s fallen, first make sure they aren’t injured. If they are uninjured and you won’t injure yourself by helping them, slowly help them into a crawling position and then onto a chair.
- Know when to call 911. You may not be able to help someone up when they fall. Call 911 if the person is injured or if you can’t get them up without injuring yourself.
- Keep the person calm and comfortable until help arrives. If you’re waiting for an ambulance, the best thing you can do is to keep the person calm and comfortable. Try placing pillows and blankets to keep your loved one comfortable while you wait.
We hope these fall prevention tips for older adults and caregivers can help you and your loved one stay safe from falls. If you have any questions about your health, always talk to your primary care provider. If you have any questions about this article, give us a call at (844) 279-0508 (TTY: 711) to speak with an ApexAssistant. Our hours of operation are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. (local time) from Apr. 1 through Sept. 30 and seven days a week 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. (local time) from Oct. 1 through Mar. 31.