According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 4 adults aged 65 and older experience some kind of trip or fall each year. Falling can cause injuries and it doubles a person’s chance of falling again. Trips and falls may also be the start of serious long-term health problems and may, in some cases, lead to the loss of independence for aging loved ones.
Fortunately, there are many simple strategies to help prevent and reduce the odds of falling or tripping. Consider sharing the below tips from the National Institute on Aging with your loved ones who may be at risk of trips and falls.
- Stay physically active. Regular exercise helps keep joints, tendons, and ligaments flexible.
- Get regular vision and hearing screenings. Even small changes in sight and hearing may increase the risk of trips and falls. Take time to get used to new eyeglasses or contact lenses and ensure hearing aids fit well.
- Learn about the side effects of medications. If a drug makes you or your loved one sleepy or dizzy, immediately tell your doctor or pharmacist.
- Stand up slowly. Getting up too quickly can decrease blood pressure and can cause dizziness. Take time to sit and stand carefully.
- Wear proper footwear. Wear non-skid, rubber-soled, low-heeled shoes, or lace-up shoes with non-skid soles. Don't walk on stairs or floors wearing socks or slippers with smooth soles.
- Use a cane or walker if needed. Appropriate use of canes and walkers can prevent falls. Make sure canes and walkers are the right size and the wheels roll smoothly. This is important when walking in unfamiliar areas or where walkways are uneven.
- Consider safety improvements at home. Remove tripping hazards. Add grab bars inside and outside the tub, shower, and next to the toilet. Put railings on both sides of the stairs and use brighter light bulbs.
For more information about how to prevent falls and what to do if you or someone you care about falls down, visit the Prevent Falls and Fractures website from the National Institute on Aging.
Caregiver Support for Aging Loved Ones
If you are a caregiver with questions about other ways to help care for your elderly loved ones, contact your Component Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for help. Your EAP is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help you manage elder care concerns and provide you with personal support, including:
- Referrals to state-specific programs that provide elderly residents with a variety of support services including transportation, meals, or recreation;
- Legal referrals for elder law concerns;
- Financial consultations to for you and your elderly relatives; and
- Support groups in your area for caregivers.
For more information or for help in contacting your EAP, contact your DHS Work-Life specialists at firstname.lastname@example.org.