September 22 is not just the first day of fall. It is also national Falls Prevention Awareness Day.
Every 11 seconds, an older adult is seen in a U.S. emergency department for a falls-related injury.
Last year in our state, falls among older adults led to more than 17,000 hospitalizations.
Tips to Prevent Falling in Your Home
So how can you help keep mom and dad steady on their feet? Here are some tips to building better balance and falls-proofing their home.
#1 – Exercise
Strength, flexibility and balance are all important to preventing falls in older adults. Talk to your parents’ physicians about the best exercise for them.
Physical therapists with WakeMed Physician Practices – Physical Therapy are trained to provide balance improvement therapies such as the Otago Exercise Program, which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, can reduce falls among older adults by up to 40 percent.
#2 – Vision & Hearing
Both vision and hearing are important aspects of preventing falls. Older adults should see an eye and ear specialist for a checkup and light their path by turning on lights before climbing stairs or using the restroom in the evening.
#3 – Home Safety
Remove or secure throw rugs, install grab bars in bathtubs and showers, keep stairs free of trip hazards and ensure interiors are well lit.
#4 – Review Medications
Do any of your parents’ medications have dizziness as a side effect? Check with your parents’ physician to know for certain.
#5 – Proper Footwear
It’s time to throw away those shoes you’ve had for years and years and buy new, good supportive shoes. Old shoes that have uneven wear on the bottom can cause imbalance, especially as gait patterns change with arthritis, injury and other issues.
Spread the Knowledge
Share these ideas with your friends who also have elderly parents and fear for their safety. People CAN improve their balance at any age!