Initiatives designed to prevent falls employ a variety of different strategies. Some, such as falls risk assessment and medication management, occur in clinical settings with the help of health care providers.
Others, such as exercise and mitigation of fall hazards in the home, occur in nonclinical settings and may involve nontraditional providers such as community health workers. Combined, these efforts can help provide a comprehensive approach to address the risk and impact of falls in older adults.
Here are six easy steps you can take today to help your older loved one reduce their risk of a fall:
1. Enlist their support in taking simple steps to stay safe.
Ask your older loved one if they’re concerned about falling. Many older adults recognize that falling is a risk, but they believe it won’t happen to them or they won’t get hurt—even if they’ve already fallen in the past. A good place to start is by sharing NCOA’s Debunking the Myths of Older Adult Falls. If they’re concerned about falling, dizziness, or balance, suggest that they discuss it with their health care provider who can assess their risk and suggest programs or services that could help.
Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death and hospitalizations in Utahns age 65 and older.
Consequences from a fall can severely limit one’s ability to live independently. Older adults who fall once are twice as likely as their peers to fall again. Despite these statistics, falls do not need to be an inevitable part of aging.
Research has shown that many falls can be prevented. Three major strategies to reduce fall risks are keeping your home safe, managing your medication, and performing regular strength and balance exercises.
The section below provides ideas for individuals, family members, and caregivers to address major fall risks and safety tips for moving about outside the home.
Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens bones to the point where they break easily—most often in the hip, spine, and wrist. Osteoporosis is more common in women, but men also have this disease.
The good news is there are things you can do at any age to prevent weakened bones, such as including regular weight-bearing exercise in your life, eating foods rich in calcium and vitamin D, stopping smoking, and limiting how much alcohol you drink.
Your bones and muscles will be stronger if you are physically active. Weight-bearing exercises, done three to four times a week, are best for preventing osteoporosis. Walking, jogging, playing tennis, and dancing are examples of weight-bearing exercises. Try some strengthening and balance exercises too. They may help you avoid falls, which could cause a broken bone.
Exercise is safe for almost everyone. For people with arthritis, exercise can reduce joint pain and stiffness. It can also help with losing weight, which reduces stress on the joints.
Flexibility exercises can help keep joints moving, relieve stiffness, and give you more freedom of movement for everyday activities. Examples of flexibility exercises include upper- and lower-body stretching, yoga, and tai chi.
Strengthening exercises will help you maintain or add to your muscle strength. Strong muscles support and protect joints. Weight-bearing exercises, such as weight lifting, fall into this category. You can use bottles of water or soup cans if you don’t have weights.
Endurance exercises make the heart and arteries healthier and may lessen swelling in some joints. Try low-impact options such as swimming and biking.
If you have a chronic condition, before beginning any exercise program, talk with your health care provider about the best activities for you to try.
There’s a lot of good advice on how to be happier or more productive or how to have better relationships. But tips on how to improve your whole life — something that will last decades and experience countless unpredictable changes — those should be regarded with extreme skepticism.
The only way to really get some good insights would be to follow a lot of people for their entire lives and see what actually works. Luckily, somebody did…
The Study of Adult Development combined three massive longitudinal studies — research projects that followed people from youth until old age — to figure out what makes a good life.
With almost a century of data on nearly 1000 people, there are plenty of insights. We’ll cover 6 big ones that can get you on your path to awesomeness.