At the Katz Institute for Women's Health, we see women’s health differently. And we’re a champion for women's health and wellness. As your trusted partner, we’re here to help you take charge of your own health and wellness. Check back each month for tips and insights from our experts so you’ll be in the know.
Every second of the day in the United States, an older adult falls—making falls the leading cause of injury and deaths from injury among older Americans. Falls and fall injuries are more common than strokes and can result in health problems that are just as serious. Falls are also the number one reason older adults lose their independence. But you have the power to reduce your risk. Here are some simple tips to prevent falls every day:
- Walk safe! People who shuffle their feet as they walk are more likely to fall. Feet that slide are more likely to trip on rugs, door thresholds, or uneven surfaces. Walking heel down first, then toe will help you step over things in your way and not catch your foot on the floor. Watch where you walk and make sure it is clear and free from clutter. Scan ahead for hazards in your path as you walk. Wear safe footwear. All shoes should be lightweight, have proper arches, backs, and flexible soles. No backless shoes, slippers or flip flops!
- Move carefully. Avoid sudden changes in posture. When going from lying down to sitting, sitting to standing, or standing from bending over, pause to let your body adjust before you move again. When turning around, turn slowly and pause to give your body time to adjust to the change in position before you continue walking.
- Be diligent with your vision. Have your vision and hearing checked regularly. Clean your glasses frequently and take off bifocals or progressive glasses on steps. Additionally, take time to adjust to changing levels of light. When going from a light to dark area or a dark to light area, pause to let your eyes adjust before you move.
- Keep moving! Simple exercise, such as walking, can help reduce pain, keep your muscles and joints in good working condition and help prevent falls. Find a balance or strength program, such as Stepping On or Tai Chi, to improve your balance and keep your muscles strong. Balance and strength can be improved at any age!
- Reduce hazards in your home. Clear the clutter to give you safe walkways throughout your home and remove small rugs from walkways, stairs and around your bed. Use nonslip mats in your tub or shower, install grab bars and a seat in the shower or bathtub and use nonslip mats both in and outside the tub. Brighten up your living space with more light, especially on the stairs at both the top and bottom. Use nightlights wherever you might walk at night—motion or darkness sensors are an inexpensive way to add light. Store flashlights in easy-to-find places in case of power outages.
- Eat, drink and be safe. Eat small, frequent meals to keep your blood sugar regulated and make sure you drink non-caffeine and non-alcoholic fluids often to stay hydrated. Low or fast falling blood sugar and dehydration can make you dizzy and confused, increasing your risk of falling. Eat a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D to prevent osteoporosis. Check with your healthcare professional before taking supplements.