Effective Ways To Prevent Falls In Older Adults

The news about former president Jimmy Carter falling for the second time this month sparked concerns about the safety of older adults at home. He sustained a minor pelvis fracture at his home in Georgia on Monday night.

A spokesperson said Carter is recovering and expected to return home soon. The risks of falling and hip fracture increase as people get older due to poor balance and weaker bones. 

“Hip fractures are the most serious injury from falls, and more than half of older adults hospitalized for hip fractures after a fall never regain their previous levels of mobility or quality of life,” Brad Manor, a mobility and aging expert and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said in a blog post

The number of people who experienced falls in the U.S. has been growing due to the aging population. The risk significantly increases when people turn 65 and older.

Manor said one older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall every 11 seconds. Aside from broken bones, cuts and bruises, falling also puts people at higher risk of death.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall in any part of the country. It has been difficult for health experts to create an approach that would help avoid falls. 

“Each fall occurs from the unique interaction of the person’s balance, the task they were performing just prior to the fall, and the ever-changing environment in which they were moving,” Manor explained. “All these things make it difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of a particular fall, and nearly impossible to uncover commonalities across all falls suffered by older adults.”

But researchers recently found a way to protect aging people and keep them free from falls over the years. Manor said new fall-prevention strategies focus on environmental factors. 

How To Avoid Falls

Observe Changes At Home

Being aware of changes in the bedroom, kitchen, living room and other common areas can help avoid obstacles and reduce falls. Always look for low-rise furniture and keep the room easy to navigate with lights.

Be Mentally Active

Cognition plays an important role in balance and fall risk. Older people should pay more attention to space around them and avoid distractions for safe movements. There are also mind-body exercises that can help improve focus, such as tai chi, yoga and dancing.

Exercise Daily

Regular exercise can help prevent poor posture, weak muscles and problems with endurance, which have been linked to frequent falls. One study suggested that daily physical activity could reduce the rate of falls by 23 percent.

Always Check Vision And Hearing

The capability to see and hear clearly can help avoid falls. Vision and hearing support balance. Wearing glasses and hearing aids when prescribed may help people become more aware of their surroundings. 

Check Medications For Side Effects

Some older adults need to take certain drugs to treat other conditions. However, there are medications that can cause drowsiness, dizziness and muscle weakness, which make them more likely to lose balance and fall.

old people The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that every 19 minutes an older adult dies from a fall in any part of the country. Pixabay