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September 2023

Fall prevention: Don’t overlook these 7 risks

Chances are, you’ll need to think about a fall prevention plan at some point in your life. Maybe it’s when you turn 65 (as suggested by the CDC). Or maybe you’ll need a plan for someone else, such as an aging parent. Either way, there are a lot of factors to take into consideration. 


Some fall risks are easy to identify, such as slippery bathroom floors, inadequate lighting, extension cords, and certain types of medications. Others, such as the seven listed below, may not be so obvious.

Senior citizen on the sofa watching TV

Lack of Exercise 


This may sound counterintuitive, because sitting in a recliner is such a low-risk activity, but an active pastime such as pickleball or cycling will give your overall health and quality of life a boost. Or maybe an exercise program is your best option. Agility, strength, balance, and coordination can be improved dramatically with an exercise program. Ask your doctor or physical therapist about a program individually tailored to your capabilities and geared toward preventing falls.

Grabs a slice of pizza from the box

An Unhealthy Diet


Exercise won’t do you much good if you’re not supplying your body the nutrients it needs for strong bones and muscle. A licensed dietary nutritionist is a great resource for developing a diet to suit your specific needs.

Pets


Cats and dogs would never intentionally harm their owners, but according to the CDC, they actually cause over 80,000 falls a year. Obedience training may be a consideration if a dog is prone to jump when excited or pull you off balance when leashed.

Furniture


Minimizing household hazards may involve a little bit of heavy lifting. Changing the layout of a room can make a big difference in keeping walkways wide and clear of obstacles.


Also, consider removing, relocating, or securing furniture that slides or tips easily or is unable to be used as support by someone with impaired mobility.

Storage


Bending down or climbing a step stool can be dangerous as you get older. If you find yourself doing these things often to grab shoes, clothes, dishes, or other frequently-used items, it may be time to evaluate your storage situation. 

Toys can be tripping hazards

Toys


Grandchildren (or great-grandchildren) have a tendency to leave toys scattered around the house. A dedicated play area will keep these tripping hazards out of the way.

Risky behavior


If you catch yourself saying “I’ve been doing it for 40 years. Why change now?” and you’re referring to cleaning the gutters or Jell-O shots, you should probably think twice.

Check out these online resources for more information:


Older Adult Fall Prevention (CDC)

Guidelines for Preventing Falls (AAOS)

Q&A: Falls and fall prevention (Mayo Clinic)

Falling: Are You Or a Loved One At Risk? (Cleveland Clinic)

As always, consult with a trusted physician or advanced practitioner about a fall prevention plan.

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