Did you know that there are things you can do as you age to be fall free and independent? Falling is NOT a normal part of aging. Adopt strategies such as doing the right exercises, making your home safer, and getting regular health checkups.
It’s important to engage in 150 minutes of physical activity every week. The Washington State Department of Health lists several evidence based fall prevention programs that are proven to decrease the risk of falls in older adults. These programs include:
- A Matter of Balance
- Enhance Fitness
- Fit & Strong!
- Healthy Steps for Older Adults (HSOA)
- Healthy Steps in Motion (HSIM)
- The Otago Exercise Program (OEP)
- Stay Active and Independent for Life (SAIL)
- Stepping On
- Tai Chi for Arthritis and Falls Prevention
- Tai Chi for Prime
- Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance
- YMCA Moving For Better Balance
According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), “our homes are where we spend a majority of our time. However, six out of every 10 falls happen at home. There are simple changes you can make to your home to help avoid falls and ensure your safety. Consider these tips:
- Install handrails on both sides of the stairs and make sure they’re tightly fastened.
- Make sure there is good lighting with light switches at the top and bottom of stairs and on each end of a long hall.
- Mount grab bars near toilets and on both the inside and outside of your tub and shower.
- Put nightlights and light switches close to your bed.
- Keep electric cords near walls and away from walking paths.”
It is important to talk to your healthcare providers about your fall risk concerns, medicine reconciliations, and annual checks of your eyes, ears, and feet. The Spokane Regional Health District recommends the following:
- Talk to your family, friends, and all healthcare professionals about falls prevention. No one will know or be able to help address your fall concerns unless you let them know.
- Talk to your Pharmacist to make sure that you are taking all the right medication.
- Stay up to date on your doctor visits, including checks on your:
- Eyes: Being able to see and place yourself in your environment is important to maintaining your balance.
- Ears: Hearing loss reduces the brain’s ability to keep track of potential obstacles and increases reaction time.
- Feet: The way you walk plays an important role in determining your risk of having a fall.
See if you are at risk of fall by answering questions on the Falls Free CheckUp Tool, available at the National Council On Aging’s website. You can print or email the results when you talk with your family, friends, and healthcare professionals.