Taking Steps Toward Fall Prevention
By Beth O’Keefe, Care Coordinator with the not-for-profit VNSNY CHOICE Health Plans
You may be surprised to learn that 1 in 3 adults over 65 will suffer a serious fall this year (CDC). In severe cases, these falls can trigger a downward spiral of health issues, impairing mobility and the quality of life for both active and homebound seniors.
The places where falls are most common aren’t on sidewalks or the backyard. According to the National Council on Aging, 70% of falls among seniors occur right at HOME. As a care coordinator and registered nurse for VNSNY CHOICE Health Plans, I work closely with the elderly and their loved ones to develop a healthcare plan that addresses the patient’s needs, helping them live safely and independently in the home.
As more and more of our elderly loved ones choose to age in their homes, it’s important that we remind ourselves about ways to prevent falls and reduce unnecessary injuries. Here are some simple tips and techniques I use to help our at-risk seniors avoid serious fall-related injuries.
- Clear Pathways at Home—review all rooms and outdoor areas and surfaces to make sure the paths are free of objects that may induce a fall; create wide pathways and eliminate clutter; tape down rugs/cords; keep commonly used items in easy reach places; do not use step stools; and fix uneven surfaces.
- Ensure Proper Lighting— keep your living space brightly lit to prevent tripping on objects that are hard to see; each pathway in the home should have ample lighting; make sure lamps and light switches are easily accessible; check and replace all lightbulbs.
- Stay Safe On the Go—always wear sturdy shoes;use handrails on stairs; avoid wet floors and wipe up spills immediately; be sure chairs and other furniture are stable; check for adequate lighting; consider safety items such as grab bars, raised toilet seats, non-skid tub mats and carry a cell or portable phone for easy access, especially if you live alone.
- Balance, Strength and Mobility—work on strength and balance by being active; consider activities such as light exercise programs, weight training, walking programs, Tai Chi, yoga, and hobbies like bowling, dancing and gardening; talk with a health professional before beginning any physical activities. Know your personal risk factors for falls, such as weakness in the knees or legs, balance problems, or vision problems.
- Managing Multiple Medications—review all medications, both over-the-counter and prescription drugs, with your doctor and pharmacist; always carry a list of your medications; do not share or “borrow” medications; know the common side effects for each drug; and remember to take medications as described.
For more information visit www.VNSNYCHOICE.org or call (888) 867-6555