Maintain An Active Lifestyle Through Fall Prevention

wheelchair-1629490_640By Lori Ginsberg

It’s that time of year when leaves and temperatures begin to drop. While the fall season is a wonderful time of year, there is nothing pleasant about experiencing an unexpected fall. Among older women, falls are the leading cause of unintentional injuries, hospital admissions for trauma and injury deaths (source: CDC). They can also dramatically impact a woman’s quality of life and independence. The good news is there are many ways you can help reduce your risk of falling.

Around The House

The majority of serious falls happen at home. In fact, according to the National Safety Council, more than 20,400 people die each year from falls at home and the majority are over the age of 65. What can you do to make your home or the home of a loved
one safer?

• Use night-lights in the bedroom and bathroom.
• Install grab bars in the shower and around the toilet.
• Use non-skid mats in the bath and shower.
• Ensure lighting is sufficient at the top and bottom of stairways.
• Remove throw rugs.
• Keep rooms free of clutter, such as small furniture, electrical cords, boxes and pet gear.
• Wipe up spills.
• Make sure floors are level and carpets are secured to the floor.
• Light outdoor walkways and keep them free of ice.

Your Health

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This old adage certainly holds true when it comes to preventing falls. There are many ways to keep yourself healthy to reduce your chance of falling.

• Keep your bones strong with a calcium and vitamin D-rich diet.
• Get your eyes checked regularly.
• Stay hydrated and keep blood sugar in check to avoid fainting and confusion.
• Exercise regularly with a focus on core strength and balance.
• Manage blood pressure.
• Avoid sudden changes in posture. When going from lying down to sitting, sitting to standing, or standing from bending over, pause after the change in posture to
let your body adjust before you move again.
• Speak to your pharmacist about potential risks of falling while taking certain medications.

Daily Habits

Often it’s a simple error in judgment that can lead to a serious fall. The following are some of the most common risky habits to avoid:

• Avoid backless shoes and slippers—especially flip-flops.
• Use a grip device on your shoes and a cane with an ice pick tip during snowy/icy conditions.
• If you must use a step stool, make sure it is steady and has a high bar to hold on to.
• Invest in pet-obedience for your dogs to minimize behaviors associated with falls (pushing or pulling).
• Use handrails while walking up and down stairs.

It’s also important to focus on how you walk. Many women as they age tend to look down and shuffle when they walk. However, this hinders the ability to look forward to prevent a fall. All women are encouraged to stand up straight and walk heel first then toe. This will prevent feet catching on carpets, rugs and stairs, and will greatly minimize the chance of a fall.

At various local community sites, including libraries, senior centers, churches and synagogues, Northwell Health offers the Stepping On fall prevention program. The program is designed to empower older adults to reduce their risk of falls. The class is open to anyone who has had a fall in the past year, is fearful of falling, or who just wants useful strategies for avoiding falls.

Lori Ginsberg
Lori Ginsberg

 

Lori Ginsberg RN, MA, is the coordinator of public health initiatives at the Center for Equity of Care with Northwell Health.

Anton Media Staff
In addition to its arts and entertainment publication Long Island Weekly, Anton Media Group publishes 16 community newspapers, several magazines, specialty publications and websites. With brands dating back to 1877, Anton has a commitment to deliver trusted and relevant content to the communities it serves.

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