Fall Prevention: Simple Ways To Reduce Your Risk

Falls are the leading cause of injuries among older adults, at times leading to long-term complications and discouraging them from being physically active. Here are a few simple and effective steps one can take to reduce their risk.

1. Regular eye checkups

Eye health plays an important role here — if you are sensitive to light or experience blurry vision, it becomes hard to see clearly when you move around. In this case, simply misjudging the distance between two steps while walking down a staircase can result in a serious fall.

If you notice any issues related to eyesight, see a doctor as soon as possible even if they appear minor. Wear your glasses when moving about and make sure you clean them thoroughly.

2. Strengthening exercises

Ask your doctor about physical activities you can safely take up to improve your strength. Tai chi, for instance, is usually a suitable option for any age group as it is a low-impact exercise that strengthens the muscles and improves balance.

"Although you aren't working with weights or resistance bands, the unsupported arm exercise involved in tai chi strengthens your upper body," said Dr. Gloria Yeh, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. "Tai chi strengthens both the lower and upper extremities and also the core muscles of the back and abdomen."

3. Wear supportive shoes

In a recent story, we discussed the importance of comfortable footwear when diagnosed with diabetes. Similarly, older individuals and anyone at risk of falls should consider opting for shoes with non-slip soles.

Wearing the wrong size can certainly reduce your stability while walking. Narrow heels can increase your chances of rolling your ankle while flip-flops fail to offer enough support to the feet. Experts recommend wearing a well-cushioned shoe with a 1-inch heel for adequate support.

4. Review your medications

Certain supplements, prescription medications, and over-the-counter medications may contribute to side effects such as lightheadedness or fatigue. It may be a direct result of taking them or due to interactions with other medications.

If you notice any symptoms that affect your movement, bring them to the attention of your doctor and provide a list of the medications you are taking. He or she will be able to provide a suitable alternative, reduce your dosage, or offer another method of intervention.

5. Make changes at home

As needed, purchase non-slip mats and handrails to install in the bathroom, bedroom, and other parts of the house. Floorboards or carpet edges that stick out of place can easily trip anyone regardless of age, so fix them as soon as possible.

Indoor lighting is another factor noted by the Mayo Clinic — night lights or flashlights should be within your reach in case you need to wake up in the middle of the night and move to another room.