Take Steps to Prevent Accidental Falls at Home
Accidental falls, especially among people ages 65 years or older, are a major cause of injury in the home, according to Mike Bernstein, a health educator with the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD).
Bernstein says that, as we get older, we experience physical changes. We lose strength and flexibility, and vision becomes impaired.
To make your living space a safe haven, you can take action to prevent injuries that may occur in your home.
Jackie Randa, an assistant professor of physical therapy at Touro University, recommends the following to help prevent falls in the home:
Regular home maintenance. Remove clutter, and make prompt repairs, to keep homes and walkways clear of items that could make you lose or others in your home lose balance—obstacles such as gravel on the ground, or unstable fixtures and surfaces.
Maintain physical conditioning. Make regular space in your calendar—30 minutes per day—for physical activity. Randa says the following activities can help maintain balance and strength: tai chi, yoga, or even walking around the block.
Increase your safety awareness. “A pharmacist is one of the most underutilized resources. Use yours!” says Randa. If you take medications, ask your pharmacist how to make sure you’re taking the correct dosage, and how to prevent any harmful drug interactions.
Seek out local organizations. Area programs offer resources to help seniors with everything from maintaining an active lifestyle to identifying potential home safety issues. A couple places to start:
- Your local senior center. Derfelt and Centennial Hills offer workshops and educational programs on lifestyle and leisure activities.
- Researchers with the program contact low-income households, identify health and safety hazards, and gather and analyze data. They also provide information about community organizations that can help, and equipment—such carbon monoxide detectors, as well as cleaning supplies—free of charge.
Michelle Ching, a PhD student in the School of Community Health Sciences at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), also works with Healthy Homes to help reduce the risk factors that cause an accidental tumble.
Ching focuses mainly on residents of licensed care homes throughout Clark County.
One benefit of working with this population, says Ching, is that care home operators and their staff can help seniors utilize available resources. One such example: Healthy Homes provides particpants with a DVD that promotes physical activity.
Like any change, living in a safer home requires commitment to a routine of maintaining your home and health. Small adjustments can help reduce the risk of injury for you, as well as for loved ones and visitors.
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