During our childhood, most of us would fall and then bounce back up like it was nothing.
Clearing the home of tripping hazards and practicing exercises to boost your balance might feel like a waste of time.
But if you’re 65 or older, spending a few extra minutes each day to prevent falls might just save your life.
No matter how young and fit we feel, our bodies are less equipped to handle falls than when we were in our 30s.
Consider these alarming statistics from the CDC:
- Every 11 seconds, an adult above 65 is treated in the emergency room for a fall
- Every 19 minutes, an adult above 65 dies from a fall
Now, combine these statistics with the fact that 1 in 4 adults over 65 fall each year.
None of us want to contribute to these statistics.
So why not take a few minutes out of your day to prevent a fall?
These 5 quick and easy tips can help you prevent falls and bounce back quicker if you do happen to fall:
#1: Keep it Clean & Keep it Lit
Of course, the easiest way to prevent a fall in your own home is to clear the area of tripping hazards and keep it well lit whenever you are walking around.
Spend a few minutes every day to ensure there aren’t any tripping hazards. Look for cords running across the floor, objects, and clothing on the floor. Put these items in an appropriate place where you won’t trip over them.
If you have any small, loose rugs, get rid of them. Chances are, you’ve already tripped a few times in your life over a rolled up loose rug. Loose rugs like throw rugs can easily roll up and create a fall hazard.
Another “fall hazard” that many people overlook is their own pets. While we love our pets, they just seem to love getting right in front of our feet, don’t they?
The best way to save yourself (and your pet) from this hazardous behavior is to block your pet off from the main areas that you walk around in, such as the kitchen or the bathroom.
Consider attaching a collar with a bell to your pet as an extra “warning” that they are approaching your feet.
You can also reduce your pet’s behavior of following you around the house by training them and providing them with plenty of exercise and play.
Dogs are easier to train than cats, so it is especially important to give your cat enough interactive play time. This will reduce boredom, which is one of the main reasons why a pet will follow an owner all around the house.
Once you’re finished clearing the house of hazards and adjusting the lights (if needed), ask a trusted friend, family member, or professional to take a look for themselves to see if they catch anything that you’ve missed.
#2: Create a Slip-Free Bathroom
The bathroom is notorious as the room where the most dangerous falls occur. A slippery tub or tile floor can cause you to fall back and hit your head.
The combination of slippery, hard surfaces (including the hard surfaces that jut out, such as the toilet, countertop, or edge of the tub) makes the bathroom the most dangerous area in most homes.
Keep the bathroom floor dry and free of loose towels, objects, and clothing. Use no-slip mats in the shower and on the floor where water tends to collect.
Install bright lights and always turn them on when in the bathroom.
Guard rails are also one of the best ways to reduce your chance of falling in the bathroom. Add them in the shower and next to the toilet, so that you can use them to help you get in and out of the shower and down and up from the toilet.
If you do end up slipping, it is likely that you will instinctively grab the guard rail and avoid a serious fall.
#3: Wear the Right Footwear
We just love wearing our favorite pair of cozy socks or slippers around the house.
However, there are some cozy socks and slippers that are much better than others.
Look specifically for non-slip socks and slippers. They will have a textured surface on the bottom that grips indoor floors better.
Also look for hard, sturdy soles. These are usually much better at preventing slips than footwear that has softer, flexible soles.
When not in the house, avoid unsupportive shoes like flip flops, loose-fitting sandals, and high heels. Make sure your shoes fit you well.
There are plenty of stylish and comfortable shoes and sneakers designed as non-slip. Many of these have tucked in shoelaces or no shoelaces at all.
Look specifically for the APMA Seal of Acceptance when shopping for footwear. This seal is an indication that the footwear is designed to promote healthy feet.
A quick search for “non-slip shoes” online or a trip to a local footwear store that specializes in shoes that are healthy for the feet is an easy way to shop for shoes.
Not only will the right shoes prevent you from falling, but they can alleviate and prevent injuries and pain such as plantar fasciitis and joint pain.
#4: Play Some Video Games
You’re probably wondering, how are video games going to prevent falls?
Well, it’s all about the type of video games that you play.
Research has shown that exergames (a type of video game that mimics sports/exercise) improve physical and cognitive functioning, thereby helping to reduce the risk of falls.
There are games on the Xbox Kinect and Nintendo Wii® console that can help adults over 65 improve their balance. The consoles on these games capture movements with motion sensors to warn players when they are off balance.
Exergames require physical activity. You’ll move your body as you try to stay on target.
Who knew preventing falls could be so fun? Two 30-minute exergame sessions per week can increase your balance and reaction time, thereby decreasing your fall risk.
So, go out and get the games! If you have grandkids, they’ll probably love playing the exergames with you too.
#5: See a Physical Therapist
Aside from making sure your home is safe, seeing a physical therapist is the best way to prevent falls.
Lack of strength and balance greatly increase your fall risk.
A physical therapist who specializes in fall prevention and rehabilitation will provide you with exercises that improve your balance and strength.
Having good balance will help you avoid falls in the first place, while having strong muscles will help prevent a fall and reduce the severity of the fall if you do end up falling.
The Quickest & Easiest Way to Prevent Falls
Looking for the quickest and easiest way to prevent falls? Our team of fall prevention specialists at Back in Motion Sport & Spine Physical Therapy in Fort Myers, FL, has your back!
Our Doctors of Physical Therapy can assess your risk of falling and provide you with a personalized plan to reduce this risk.
We will specifically test you for balance issues, muscular weakness, muscular imbalances, and mobility issues… all of which are known to increase your fall risk. Then, we will use our revolutionary method of treatment known as The Gray MethodTM to eliminate those underlying issues that can lead to a fall.
We use only the safest and most effective fall prevention exercises, along with patient education to minimize your fall risk.
We offer both in-person and online Telehealth Physical Therapy for fall prevention, meaning you can access our team of experts from anywhere in the world!