The Fear of Falling – we experience it in our dreams, we overcome it in our toddler years and get to re-visit this anxiety in our golden years. The fear of falling is not without merit. We are told that one in four people age 65 or older fall each year. Unfortunately, this ends up leading to broken hips, head trauma and other serious injuries. And yet somehow with these statistics, we still believe that we are the ones who will avoid such an incident!
There are numerous things that can contribute to the likelihood of a fall: muscles that aren’t as limber as they used to be, failing eye sight and memory loss. Confusion and lack of confidence spurred on by emotional triggers or new surroundings can also play a role.
Here are some tips to consider:
Medical Matters – Make a list for your next medical appointment. Are there things you could do last year that seem to be a struggle now? When getting pots and pans out did it used to be hassle free and now you get dizzy or can’t reach the shelf with ease like before? These could be signs of adjustments needed with meds, dehydration due to meds, a decline of muscle strength or other elements in play. Sometimes if we take a spill and aren’t hurt, we think no big deal, but it’s critical to tell your doctor about any balance issues.
Movement Makes a Difference – We would consider it to be crazy for a football player to get on the field without his helmet and gear, so why do we not take the time to wear the proper attire when venturing out? Wearing the proper shoes can make a huge difference! Non-slip shoes with a low heel and closed toe are best. In order to keep the body healthy, eliminate stiff muscles and improve balance, exercise is essential! The very act of walking stimulates the lymphatic system to eliminate toxins that cause illness. Finding local classes for dance, yoga or swimming can do wonders for the soul! One study revealed that seniors who take up tai chi eliminate their risk of falling by 50%!
Make Space – When we have been on planet earth for some time and have enjoyed decades of birthdays and holiday celebrations, we probably collected some treasures along the way! Sometimes those gifts end up on a shelf, nightstand or even the floor after their initial debut.
It’s good to bring in a new set of eyes to eliminate pathways of peril. It also helps to take this challenge on in 15-minute increments. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by thinking a whole weekend needs to be devoted to the overhaul, set a timer for 15 minutes every couple of hours.
Poor Lighting – When we have lived in a home for a certain length of time there may be areas of bad lighting, but because it’s been that way for so long, we don’t even notice it anymore. Upgrading the light bulbs to a brighter wattage can help avoid tripping over items nestled in the dark.
Pull out those Rugs - Trip hazard #1 are the throw rugs throughout the house. They may be covering wires or cords, but as we age in place, they become risky business. Rumor has it that six out of ten falls take place in the home. Is that old rug worth it?
For those who wish to stay in their home and reduce their chances of falling, these precautions aren’t options, they’re essential. In fact, the safety of your loved ones depends on it.