At Takacs McGinnis client education events, you never know what issues will come up. Family caregivers arrive with all kinds of questions about caring for elderly loved ones.

Not surprisingly, falls are a common topic. Family members wonder what they can do to minimize the fall risk for elders in their care. This was one of the questions asked at a recent Dessert with Deb.

Falls are the leading cause of injury-related emergency department visits for older adults, the major cause of hip fractures, and responsible for more than half of fatal head injuries. Successful fall prevention involves three main strategies: balance training and physical activity, medical management, and home modifications. Whether you are a service provider, an interested individual, a caregiver, or an educator, remember that a combination of all three interventions are necessary to prevent falls in the home and out in the community. 

A person’s risk of falling increases if a person has:        

  • Fallen before
  • Balance problems
  • A chronic disease 
  • Depression
  • Exposure to hazards in the home
  • A history of taking many medications
  • Memory problems
  • Muscle weakness
  • Vision problems

What can you do to help a person reduce their risk of falling, and stay independent, healthy, and strong?

Get a fall risk assessment.

Talk to your doctor about your concerns and discuss your risk of falling.

Review your medications.

Bring all of your medications, vitamins, and supplements to your pharmacist or health professional at least once a year, and when there are changes in your health. Ask about side effects and interactions, especially if you take 4 or more medications.

Have your vision checked.

Have your vision and eyeglass prescriptions checked every year by an eye doctor.

Engage in regular physical activity.

Ask your doctor about the best types of activities for you and make a plan that matches what you like and what you are able to do. Strength and balance exercises using your lower body can build strength, improve your balance and coordination, and reduce your risk of falling.

Assess the home and makes changes for safety.

Use a home safety checklist or talk with a professional (such as an occupational therapist) to look for things inside your home that could make you more likely to fall. Change your home to make it safer. Reduce clutter, improve lighting in rooms, hallways, and stairwells, and install handrails and grab bars.

Learn more about how to talk to loved ones about fall prevention with this Fall Prevention Conversation Guide.

Fall prevention begins with you. Take steps today to reduce the risk. It will help elderly loved ones (and you) stay on your feet!

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