November is fall prevention month. Almost 1/3 of older adults’ experience falls. After 1 fall,
approximately 50% of individuals will experience a second fall. Falls can be attributed to certain
medications causing dizziness especially when standing, decreased mobility, osteoarthritis, underlying
health conditions and impaired cognition. Falls can result in fractures, head injuries, permanent
disabilities and in some circumstances, death. Falls are not a normal part of aging and should be taken
seriously when and if they occur. Proper care and assessment by your family doctor following a fall is
important to decrease the risk of any further falls and potential injuries.
There are a few things we can do to decrease our risk of falls as we age. After assessment and clearance
by a physician, a key factor in fall prevention is to keep your body moving. This includes gentle
movements such as yoga, swimming and walking. These activities improve balance, coordination and
Invest in a pair of sensible shoes. For example, slippers, socks and sandals, although comfortable, can
cause you to trip and subsequently fall. Buy a pair of good fitting shoes with flexible rubber non-slip
soles. Getting fitted by a professional when buying shoes is a good idea as every foot is different and
they can recommend a pair for you based on your gait.
Clear up your living space. Some falls are caused by tripping on rugs, cords, reaching for items on high
shelves and slipping while getting into and out of the bathtub. Either remove throw rugs or secure them
in place with slip-resistant backing or double-faced backing. Don’t forget to secure your bathmat in place
too! Remove cords that are running across walkways. Install handrails in and around 8the bathtub as
well as using a shower chair.
Don’t forget about lighting. A well-lit area helps you to avoid potential hazards. Keep a flashlight close to
the bed, place night lights in high traffic areas such as hallways and the bathroom and turn on the lights
before going up and downstairs.
Your doctor might recommend an assistive device, such as a cane or walker to help steady yourself
when you are mobile. Other devices to consider are raised toilet seats, handrails in the shower, around
the toilet and up or downstairs and handheld showerheads. There are also specialized devices, often
made by an occupational therapist that can help you with daily tasks.