May 17, 2017—Every second of every day in the U.S., an older adult falls.
That makes falls the leading cause of injuries and deaths from injuries among seniors, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Still, some fairly simple steps can prevent most falls. If you're an older adult, here's how to stay safe and steady on your feet:
1. Don't let your balance slip away from you. Exercises to boost balance can help you walk safely and avoid a nasty tumble. One such exercise that you can do almost anytime—and anywhere—is to walk heel to toe. According to the National Institute on Aging, all you need to do is:
- Position the heel of one foot just in front of the toes of the other foot. Your heel and toes should touch or almost touch.
- Choose a spot ahead of you and focus on it to keep you steady as you walk.
- Take a step. Put your heel just in front of the toe of your other foot.
- Repeat for 20 steps.
If you tend to be wobbly, try doing this near a wall that you can touch for support. If you're really steady on your feet, try doing this exercise with your eyes closed.
2. Get a medicine checkup. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review all the medicines and supplements you take, including over-the-counter ones. Some medicines—or combinations of them—can make you sleepy or dizzy and raise your risk of falling.
3. Have your vision checked at least once a year. Regular eye checks will help determine if you need a new prescription for your glasses or have a condition like glaucoma or cataracts that limits your vision.
4. Make your home safer. Roughly half of all falls happen at home. To avoid slips and trips:
- Clear clutter from stairs and places where you walk.
- Remove throw rugs, or use double-sided tape to keep them from slipping.
- Improve the lighting in your home.
- Keep stairways safe by installing handrails.
For more information, take a peek at this infographic that shows how to fall-proof your bathroom.