Since falling is one of the leading causes of injury for older Americans, we want to talk about how you can work on preventing falls this month. We’re actually a little ahead of schedule, because Falls Prevention Awareness Day isn’t until September 23rd. But you don’t want to wait too long to have a fall risk assessment or to put certain precautions in place. Whether you’re at risk or you’re worried about a loved one. At Progressive Podiatry, we’re always available to discuss the following fall prevention strategies:
Start with a Fall Risk Assessment
Not every doctor offers this particular evaluation, but Dr. Jurd-Sadler considers it an important part of her comprehensive services. When you come to the office for your fall risk assessment, she’ll go over your medical history, conduct a physical examination, and ask you additional questions to determine whether or not you’re likely to injure yourself from falling. While anyone can have an accident, some people just have a higher risk. If you’ve fallen before, suffer from muscle or bone weakness, have a chronic illness, take certain medications, have poor posture, hearing, or vision, etc. you could have a higher chance of falling. Especially if you’ve developed a fear of falling, we want to schedule your fall risk assessment as soon as possible.
Physical Activity is Key
Many people think they should limit their physical activities if they want to prevent falls. Actually, the opposite is true! Strength training is especially important, even if you’re not lifting weights. As you get older, you’ll benefit more from water work outs, tai chi, or just walking. Since they help to improve your coordination, flexibility, balance, and even strength. Of course, if you’re worried about hurting yourself as you exercise, you should share this fear with your doctor. You can always participate in a monitored program that encourages physical activity with professional supervision. Or your doctor may even refer you to a physical therapist who can create custom exercises to target your fall risks.
Wear Proper Footwear for Healthy Feet
Walking around in flimsy footwear or stocking feet will only increase your chances of falling. Try to wear sturdy shoes, even in the comfort of your home, as part of your fall prevention plan. If you haven’t had a professional shoe fitting in a while, you may want to change that. As we age, the tendons in our feet actually relax. Which leads to a slightly wider foot size, along with other adjustments. With our help, you can have comfortable, custom-fitted footwear that will reduce your risk of falls. Plus, it can also help with sore feet, joints, and other posture/gait problems.
Evaluate & Rearrange Your Home
There are plenty of external factors that affect how likely you are to fall. It’s important to update your home as you age to have a successful fall prevention strategy. Starting with your stairs. If you have to continue to use stairs to reach your bedroom, bathroom, or other key areas of your home, make sure you have handrails on either side of the stairway. Try to keep a clear path throughout your home, as well. While removing potential trip hazards, like loose floorboards, carpeting, electrical cords, and small furniture pieces from high traffic areas.
Dim lighting can also increase your fall risk, so you may need to update the overhead lighting throughout your house. Don’t forget to make light switches accessible and store flashlights close by in case of a power outage. Then, you have to actually use them! Try turning on your lights before going up or down hallways and stairs, even during the day. If you can see exactly where you’re going, you have a better chance of preventing falls.
If you’re planning to age in place, your bathroom is going to need a few upgrades. At a minimum, you should install non-slip mats in your tub or shower. Although you may want to remove your bathtub completely in favor of a large, walk-in shower. Either way, you’ll still need grab bars and some type of seating. As well as accessibility tools for your toilet, faucet, and/or shower head. For more ideas on how your bathroom design can help to prevent falls, check out this article.
With Falls Prevention Awareness Day right around the corner, help your friends and family create a plan to limit risks in their home. If you’d like to schedule a fall risk assessment with Dr. Jurd-Sadler, please contact either one of our Maryland-based offices to find a time that works for you.