“Often, we think an accident will never happen to us,” says Nancy Clanton, Community Relations Director at Tuscan Gardens® of Venetia Bay in Venice, Florida. “Many seniors think that they won’t suffer a serious fall, or that fall prevention is just common sense. But as we see time and again, accidents can happen to any of us.”
According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of injury for older adults. Even when a fall doesn’t result in a serious injury, it can still have negative consequences for an individual’s quality of life. The fear of falling can cause poor physical health, social isolation, feelings of helplessness or depression. However, healthy aging doesn’t have to be limited by the threat of a fall, as long as we work to prevent them.
For older adults, experiencing a fall could point to something as simple as a cluttered floor or a problem as serious as inner-ear issues or arthritis. The major causes of senior falls include, but are not limited to:
While many of these conditions, such as vision loss and muscle weakness, occur naturally with age, others can be eliminated with simple, inexpensive solutions.
If you or an older loved lives on your own or may have a condition that puts you at a higher risk of falling, there are many different steps you can take to reduce your chances of suffering from a fall or related injuries. With the high prevalence of falls in seniors, experts on aging continue to stress important ways for seniors and their families to take charge of their health and increase their personal safety. Health experts such as the Mayo Clinic and the National Council on Aging offer several ideas to decrease the chance of falling:
1. See the Doctor – Be sure to talk to your doctor about your risk of falling. Certain health conditions, such as diabetes or arthritis, or medications taken for these conditions may cause dizziness or mobility limitations. Some drug combinations and side effects can also interfere with balance. Depending on your mobility, your doctor might suggest seeing a physical or occupational therapist to help with your gait and range of motion.
It’s also important to visit the eye doctor regularly, as vision changes commonly occur with age. Make sure your prescription is up to date if you wear glasses.
2. Stay Active – The best thing you can do to avoid a fall is to stay physically active. Improving flexibility and strengthening leg and core muscles are great ways to improve balance, and in turn make it easier to keep oneself from falling when they stand up or trip. Find an exercise class for seniors, or ask family members to exercise with you. Yoga, tai chi and light strength training are good options. It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting any kind of new exercises.
3. Remove Hazards at Home – Loose rugs, carpet or floorboards can be dangerous for seniors who aren’t as agile as they used to be. Fix trouble areas and remove or secure throw rugs with non-slip backing. Keep clutter from building up on the floors, and rearrange the furniture so rooms are easy to navigate. Make sure frequently used items, such as cooking tools or the vacuum cleaner, are easy to reach and don’t require rummaging through closets or climbing on a step stool.
4. Keep Areas Well Lit – Especially if poor or low vision is a problem, make sure all areas of your home are well lit at night. Install nightlights in the hallways and bathroom, and keep a lamp near your bedside.
5. Watch Your Footwear – Most falls occur when someone is wearing heels, loose slippers or socks. You can help avoid a fall by buying a sensible pair of shoes to wear around the house. Look for shoes with good traction, and purchase snuggly fitting slippers with rubber soles and warm socks with rubber grips on the bottom.
6. Learn About Assistive Devices – A doctor might suggest that you use a cane or walker to get around more easily. Make sure the device is adjusted to your height and learn about other household modifications that could keep you from a fall. Consider installing grab bars and non-slip mats in the shower, extra handrails along stairs or non-slip treads on slippery surfaces, such as outdoor steps.
7. Look for Signs of Weakness – Since many changes that come with age occur gradually, you may not notice that you have trouble standing up or that you instinctively hold on to the wall as you’re walking. Keep an eye out for signs of physical changes that could make you more vulnerable to falling and address these issues with your doctor.
“The effects of aging happen to all of us,” says Clanton. “Even at our best health, it’s important to be prepared for the unknown. Preventing falls may be the single most important thing you could do for your independence and longevity.”
If you would like to learn more about fall prevention or living a healthy senior lifestyle, contact Tuscan Gardens of Venetia Bay today to learn about our community lifestyle as well as educational and social events.
At Tuscan Gardens® of Venetia Bay, we’ve mastered the art of living. We’ve perfected the balance of personalized support and an uplifting lifestyle, helping our residents experience independence, joy and meaning every day.
Offering supportive independent living, assisted living and memory care services for families in Venice, Florida, Tuscan Gardens of Venetia Bay was founded with one simple, yet profound goal – to create a community worthy of our parents. In all we do, we are guided by the principles of family, culture and engagement, working to represent the remarkable way of life our families deserve.
Luxury, intimacy, opportunity, passion and beauty combine to create what the Italians call sprezzatura – a culture of effortless elegance. The essence of our community is made up not only of mere aesthetics, but an artfully designed lifestyle to bring out the best of what each day has to offer. From dedicated care that respects residents’ individuality and dignity to a lifestyle that nurtures their love of life, Tuscan Gardens was built to be more than just a residence, but a place to call home.