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Why is it important for baby boomers to think about fall prevention? The National Council on Aging reports that one-fourth of Americans 65 or older fall annually. While this statistic should get any baby boomer’s attention, there is some good news worth mentioning. By following a few simple tips, boomers can put the odds in their favor and avoid a dangerous fall.
Below are some proven safety tips worth considering to prevent falls.
1. Consult with your doctor about medications you’re taking and possible alternatives.
Sadly, many of the medications prescribed to help seniors treat one condition create other problems. In the case of balance, some medications are to blame. By reviewing all over-the-counter medications and prescriptions with a doctor, it is possible to identify potential problems ahead of time so substitutions can be made. In particular, sedatives and antidepressants can cause balance problems and grogginess.
2. Eliminate tripping hazards in your home.
Boomers should survey their homes looking for obvious hazards such as electrical cords, loose rugs and boxes that are in the way. High-traffic areas should be cleared of any obstacles that are easy to trip over. Lower furniture pieces and decorative items such as plant stands and coffee tables are common hazards.
Loose rugs can be a big problem. Slip-resistant backing or double-faced tape can secure rugs in place. Pay special attention to the bathroom where tile floors and water can make for an especially slippery surface.
Be sure to get a handyman in to repair loose flooring. This type of simple fix can make all the difference.
3. Do exercises to improve balance and increase strength.
NIH reports a link between an increased probability of falling and muscle weakness and balance challenges. Walking, tai chi, dance lessons, and water workouts provide excellent ways to improve muscle tone and balance. NIH recommends getting 150 minutes of physical activity or more every week.
In situations where balance issues or muscle weakness are already causing falls, a physical therapist should be consulted. These health professionals can customize an exercise program that helps boomers with special needs get started without risking injury.
4. Have your eyes and ears tested regularly.
The importance of eyesight and hearing can’t be overestimated when discussing fall prevention. Even small changes in your eyesight or hearing can increase the probability of falling. Boomers should allow for a period of adjustment when getting new glasses or hearing aids before navigating more difficult situations such as a trip to the mall or an outside walk in the woods where unexpected obstacles might get in the way.
5. Limit alcohol intake.
NIH reports that alcohol can be blamed for 60% of falling accidents. Granted, having a single drink with a meal is probably okay for most seniors. For older adults, Overindulging is a terrible idea for many reasons, raising the chance of falling drastically. Anyone who has ever overindulged knows that dizzy feeling you get when you’ve had one too many. Smart seniors recognize the increased risk of falling and getting injured when drinking too heavily.
6. Wear practical shoes.
One of the smartest ways to enjoy life and stay on your feet is to wear sensible, comfortable shoes that provide enough support. While six-inch heels might be alluring as a fashion statement for some mature women, wearing high heels is asking for trouble.
Remember, that slippery floors and high heels are a dangerous combination. If you must wear a higher heel, then try a thicker, lower version with more support. Non-skid soles provide even more support. Your feet and joints will thank you.
7. Use night lights.
If you have to get up in the middle of the night, make it as safe as possible by strategically placing night lights around the house. Who hasn’t run into something in the middle of the night groping the walls to find their way to the bathroom door.
When traveling, it makes sense to pack night lights for the trip. It is far too easy to slip and fall in an unfamiliar environment when getting up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
8. Stop using floor wax.
Floor wax may be shiny, but it can also be the source of a hard fall. There’s no secret as to why this happens. Who doesn’t like the look of a shiny floor? As a boomer, it might be time to use decorative throw rugs or some other aesthetic to get the visual effect you desire instead of risking a painful fall.
9. Use healthcare aids for additional support.
There is an abundance of health aids designed to prevent falls.
- Non slip covers for steps
- Grab bars for showers and tubs
- Handrails for stairways
- Raised toilet seats
10. Get enough sleep.
Anyone suffering from sleep deprivation can relate to the groggy way you feel the next day. This type of mental state increases the probability of falling. With so many health reasons to make sleep a priority in life, preventing a fall is yet another excellent reason to add to that list.