Stand strong: Tips to prevent falls and stay on your feet
Every year, thousands of falls lead to serious injuries such as broken bones and can mean a trip to the hospital, surgeries, long-term rehab, and possibly even a permanent disability. But with a few simple changes, you can reduce your risk of falls.
What are the main causes of falls?
Sometimes the fear of falling can lead to an inactive lifestyle. This inactivity can cause weakness and balance problems, eventually leading to a fall. Other causes can be:
Mechanical. Tripping on a loose rug, a cord, clutter, or even your pet
Chemical. Medications with side effects like lightheadedness or drowsiness
Physiological. Impaired eyesight and/or hearing
Age-related. General muscle weakness, balance issues, difficulty walking
How can I prevent falls?
The good news is, falling is preventable. Making simple changes around your home, talking to your provider, scheduling annual preventive visits, and shifting your daily routine will help improve your chances of avoiding a fall. You can:
Customize your house. Clear clutter, remove loose rugs and cords, use grab bars in the bathroom and shower, and be aware of your surroundings.
Discuss medication side effects. Review medications with your provider to ensure side effects like drowsiness won’t increase your fall risk.
Test your vision and hearing regularly. Make sure to visit your provider for vision and hearing exams at least once a year to help prevent falls.
Increase your level of activity. Walking, climbing stairs, and gardening while using medical equipment that helps with stability can help prevent falls. Discuss any difficulties with your provider and ask for physical and occupational therapy advice if you need it.
What else can I do?
If you are already working with a physical therapist, ask them to help assess your fall risk. They may be able to provide guidance to your primary care physician to help create a medical plan for you.
It is important to tell your provider if you have fallen, regardless of how big or small it may have been. This information could alert them to underlying causes that might not be clear to you. Your provider may even suggest using a device to help you with balance and walking, such as a cane or walker.
PREVENT falls by being PROACTIVE, staying ACTIVE, and be HONEST with your health care provider.
What other resources do I have that can help?
If you need a provider, Find-A-Doc makes it easy to search online for a doctor, specialist, hospital, and more in your area.
If you need help staying active at home,SilverSneakers offers a variety of online classes for many fitness levels for our Medicare Advantage members. And everyone can enjoy our digital wellness programs, even if you’re not a CDPHP member!
If you have questions about your medications, you may qualify for the Medication Therapy Management (MTM) program, which will allow you to speak with a pharmacist one-on-one to review medications.
Maha Ghorayeb, MS, APRN, FNP-BC, is a Family Nurse Practitioner at Landmark Health, a physician-led, in-home medical group for eligible seniors with chronic illnesses. In clinical practice, she specializes in providing care to patients at home, managing them on a longitudinal and/or urgent basis, and delivering a proactive approach to reduce unnecessary hospitalizations while collaborating with a multidisciplinary clinical team to provide exceptional care to her patients.