With age comes many gifts, but it also comes with its challenges. One challenge that an older senior faces is the risk of falling. Everyone ages differently and the reasons seniors are at a higher risk of falling are unique for every individual. They could be related to any number of factors. The most common is reduced reflexes – seniors have a harder time correcting themselves when they trip or slip than younger people. This can be due to arthritis, medications, reduced eyesight, muscle weakness, or many other reasons. Any reduction in strength or balance increases your risk of falling.
Most people know that falls for older adults are dangerous. One in five falls among older seniors lead to broken bones or head injuries, both major injuries that seniors will find harder to recover from than when they were younger. A fall can lead to major quality of life changes.
Falls can result in life-altering injuries for seniors. That’s why fall prevention for seniors is so important. Every case is unique, and you and your family should look closely at the factors that could be increasing your fall risk. There are several general tips that can be useful for just about everyone.
Remove Falling Hazards from Your Home
Perform a “hazard audit” of your home and update your furniture and arrangement to accommodate for the fact that you need wider avenues and more clear space to navigate your home safely. Many falls happen at home.
Some ways you can make your home safer include clearing walkways of tripping hazards, including cords, plants, magazine racks, and boxes. Be sure to repair loose floorboards or carpets immediately, clean spilled liquids immediately, and start storing things you need to reach for (like clothes or dishes) in places that are more convenient. Don’t forget the bathroom; invest in nonslip mats for the shower or tub.
Wear Shoes Inside
Wearing the right footwear can give you more grip and reduce fall risks. Walking around in stocking feet can cause you to slip on tile or other smooth surfaces, whereas sensible shoes can give you more control.
Exercises to Improve Strength and Balance
Physical activity targets the source of your increased fall risks: reduced strength and balance. It can be difficult for seniors to stay active due to joint pain and muscle weakness, but there are several exercises that are ideal for helping seniors that won’t hurt or require too much exertion:
- Tai Chi – the first choice for many seniors who want to improve their balance and mindfulness of the way their bodies move. Tai Chi is an effective way to reduce falling risks, and it’s easy to practice in groups or alone once you’ve learned the basics.
- Yoga – Much like Tai Chi, yoga also improves muscle strength and balance. For seniors who have difficulty bending into yoga positions, chair yoga is an excellent alternative.
- Walking – Walking is another way for seniors to improve muscle strength in their legs. Find a walking group you can join every morning and stay active.
Exercises are some of the most effective ways you can reduce falls. Senior living centers such as Cite Parkway Residence in Ottawa exemplify the kind of exercise programming that can help seniors stay healthy and reduce their fall risks.
Fall prevention is an essential aspect of senior health. Stay active, clear walkways in your home, and start wearing sensible shoes to reduce your risks.