Fall Prevention

Falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths, hospitalizations, and emergency department visits among adults 65 and older. Each year in New York State, an average of 900 residents aged 65 years and older die from an injury sustained from a fall, and more than 128,000 are treated at a hospital due to a fall. Falls can result in lasting, serious consequences, affecting mobility, independence, and mental health. Fortunately, the risk of falling can be reduced through taking small steps like having an annual eye exam or enrolling in an exercise program to improve strength and balance. Because of the serious impact that falls have on older adults in New York, as well as the great potential for risk reduction, Governor David Paterson has proclaimed September 22, 2010 Fall Prevention Awareness Day.

What can you do to prevent falls? There are a number of simple steps:

  • Go over the medications you take with your doctor and pharmacist. If any of them cause dizziness as a side effect, see if there is another medication you can take that won't make you dizzy
  • Check your vision. The better you can see obstacles in your path, the less likely you are to trip
  • Keep your floors and stairs clutter-free
  • Place any electrical cords out of your path. Ideally, they should run along the walls.
  • Get rid of throw rugs! They are a very common cause of falls!
  • Check your shoes! Are they sturdy? Do they have a no-skid sole? Do they have low or no heels?
  • Do all that you can to maintain and improve your balance
  • Sit and stand slowly, to give your blood pressure a chance to adjust.
  • Install and use hand rails on stairs, inside and out.
  • Consider installing grab bars in the shower and tub.
  • When shopping, use the cart for support.
  • When reaching for something on a high shelf, use a sturdy step stool
  • Participate in a physician-approved exercise program. It will build and improve your muscle strength and balance.
  • Eat a balanced diet. Many of the nutrients in fruits and vegetables are important for eye sight, bone strength, and overall well being.
  • If your physician has advised you to use a walker or a cane – use it! Embarrassment is no excuse for becoming a statistic!
  • If the weather is bad, stay home. Ice, snow, and wet pavement all increase your risk of falling.
  • Consider using a medical alert system so that if you do fall, you can summon help immediately.

You really can do a lot to reduce your chances of suffering serious injuries from falls by using these simple strategies.