Because one in three Americans 65 and older will fall every year, it is important to take preventative measures to reduce the risk of falling and the possibility of experiencing injury, long-term care or even death.
The University of Nevada Cooperative Extension offers two publications entitled “Reducing Personal Risks of Accidental Falls” and “Preventing Falls in Your Home” that are filled with tips and guidance about how to avoid falls. These research-based articles are located on its website, www.unce.unr.edu.
Not only do environmental risk factors such as poor lighting or loose area rugs play a part in falls, but there are some individual risk factors as well. For example, women are more likely to fall than men and people older than 55 are more likely to fall than younger adults.
One of the first steps in preventing falls is checking the home for hazards that may cause you to fall. The articles offer several tips for making the home a safer place, such as providing adequate lighting, clearing loose objects and clutter from the floor, and removing or securing loose area rugs. Outside the home, you should watch for uneven surfaces, unexpected spills, loose objects and slippery floors. Being unfamiliar with your surroundings also creates a risk factor.
Also featured are ways to reduce personal risk factors including choosing footwear with closed heels and toes to avoid catching on something that could cause a fall, getting regular eye exams and knowing what medications you are taking to avoid negative interactions or side effects.
Another way to avoid falls is regular physical activity. Exercise helps to strengthen muscle, which protects joints and provides the strength and balance needed to get around safely. Tips on how to start exercising in a safe way are included in the publications.
Within the articles are more tips on preventing falls and more in-depth suggestions to make the home a safer place. By following these guidelines, the likelihood of falling may be reduced; simple measures go a long way, such as being aware of one’s surroundings and not being in a hurry.
The University of Nevada Cooperative Extension is an outreach arm of the university that extends unbiased, research-based knowledge to local communities. Educational programs are developed based on needs, sometimes in partnership with other agencies and volunteers.
For more information, visit www.unce.unr.edu or call 222-3130.
Information courtesy University of Nevada Cooperative Extension