Preventing Adult Falls

Falls are not a normal part of aging—and they are preventable, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one and every three adults aged 65 and older fall each year. Falls are the second main cause of trauma injuries for patients seen at Meritus Medical Center’s emergency department.

Adding to the problem, 35 percent of people who fall become less active and statistics indicate that people who fall once are more likely to fall again in the same year. And when seniors fall, even without sustaining an injury, it frightens and prevents them from living life to the fullest.

"Falls can lead to serious complications like hip fractures, traumatic brain injury, cuts and bruises, mobility limitations and the fear of falling," says Matthew Kearney, PA-C, with White Oak Pediatric and Adult Medicine.

Tips to prevent falls

These simple lifestyle changes can preserve your health and independence:

  • Exercise to maintain mobility, strength and core stability
  • Get your eyes checked regularly
  • Review your medications with a health care provider
  • Look for dimly lit areas in your home and remove loose rugs
  • Install assistive devices in your home such as grab bars, shower seats and raised toilet seats
  • Buy supportive shoes with a non-skid sole

Some medications like Ambien, clonazepam and trazodone can increase your risk of falling so Matt recommends reviewing your medications with a health care provider. “Exercise is very beneficial to minimize falling,” says Matt. He suggests programs such as yoga, tai chi and water workouts to increase leg strength, balance and core stability.

Speak up about falls

Less than half of seniors who fall talk to their health care provider about it, but a physician can help determine the cause of a fall such as weak muscles, balance or drug interactions resulting in dizziness. Health care providers often refer patients to a physical therapist who can help with muscle weakness or inner ear problems and recommend therapies to improve the condition.

If you’ve fallen before, jot down the details of your fall and discuss the fall with your health care provider so you can identify fall-prevention strategies.

Meritus Health’s Total Rehab Care and the Washington County Health Department offer Stepping On, a researched-based fall prevention program for seniors who have fallen or want to prevent a fall. Participants learn to shop for safe footwear, check for home safety and understand how vision, medication and strength training can help or affect balance.

If you’re interested in an exercise program to improve balance and core strength, contact Total Rehab Care at 301-714-4025.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention