Fall Risk and Prevention

Each year, 2.8 million people age 65 and older are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries. In fact, more than one out of four older people fall each year, and falling once doubles your chances of falling again. Many falls do not cause injuries, but one out of five falls does cause a serious injury such as a broken bone or a head injury. These injuries can make it hard for a person to get around, do everyday activities, or live on their own.
Research has identified many conditions or risk factors that contribute to falling, including:
• Lower body weakness
• Vitamin D deficiency (that is, not enough vitamin D in your system)
• Difficulties with walking and balance
• Use of medicines, such as tranquilizers, sedatives, or antidepressants, even some over-the-counter medicines, can affect balance and how steady you are on your feet.
• Vision problems
• Foot pain or poor footwear
• Home hazards or dangers such as
o broken or uneven steps
o throw rugs or clutter that can be tripped over
o Absence of handrails along stairs and in the bathroom
Most falls can be prevented; these are a few simple things you can do to keep yourself from falling:
 Ask your physician to review your medications with you, including your over the counter medications to see if there could be side effects of dizziness or drowsiness that could affect balance andvision.
 Ask for a referral for a fall assessment and balance training from a physical therapist.
 Incorporate strength and balance exercises into your daily routine.
 Get an annual vision screening, and be sure to update your eyeglasses if needed.
 Ask a medical professional about any adaptive equipment that may help with your activities of daily living.
 Make your home environment safer
o Make sure you have railings on both sides of stairs.
o Ensure there is adequate lighting throughout the house; you can increase light by just adding brighter bulbs.
o Remove tripping hazards throughout the house.
o Add anti-slip devices to slippery surfaces.
o Install grab bars inside and outside your bathtub or shower and next to or across from the toilet.
o Talk to a home medical equipment provider about adding a Medical Alert System to your home.
In the event of a fall, a fall with injury, or if you are having difficulty with normal daily activity, consider HealthSource Saginaw to help you regain your independence. HealthSource has an interdisciplinary team of rehabilitation specialists that can provide both inpatient and outpatient services. Allow us to tailor an individualized plan and guide you on your road to recovery.