Every year, one in three adults over age 64 falls. But certain exercises and simple home modifications help reduce the risk.
“Half of falls occur in a person’s home. Falls are the main reason older people go to emergency departments,” says Steve Albert, Ph.D., co-director of the University of Pittsburgh Prevention Research Center (PRC).
The PRC is part of a nationwide network of 37 academic and community research partners funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to find ways to keep people healthy. Several PRCs research ways to help older adults avoid falling. Dr. Albert is comparing the effectiveness of two fall-prevention programs, and health agencies will use findings in choosing which program to offer.
“Most falls involve changing location, such as while walking or moving from a bed or chair,” says Dr. Albert. “Sometimes, falls happen when someone carries laundry down stairs without a railing.”
But the good news is, there are many simple things you can do to prevent falls. Here’s a list of ways you can “fall-proof” yourself and your surroundings.
• Improve balance and strength;
• Keep cords, shoes, papers, plants and boxes out of walkways;
• Add grab bars in and beside the tub/shower and next to the toilet;
• Use a nonslip mat or appliques in the tub/shower;
• Install railings in stairways;
• Improve lighting;
• Avoid or secure throw rugs.