For too many who are aging, living with a neurodegenerative disease or in the aftermath of a serious injury, falls are a part of life.
In fact, every second of the day in the United States, an elderly adult suffers a fall that can be seriously harmful or even fatal.
But many falls are avoidable when you understand the common causes and strategies to avoid such risks.
Keeping people safe is what National Falls Prevention Awareness Week is all about. In the spirit of the week, read on to learn more about why people fall and how you can avoid them.
1. Hazards Around the Home
One of the most common reasons people fall is that their home is not set up to facilitate their safe and easy movement. Falls indoors can happen for a number of reasons and in many cases can be easily avoided.
Cleaning Up Clutter
Often a major fall risk is simply clutter left on the floor and in walkways. We tend to relax and let our guards down at home rather than looking for obstacles, making them all the more unexpected and hazardous.
Two of the most common spots for falls are the bathroom and long hallways, two places where you engage in prolonged physical activity.
Installing Grab Bars
For this reason, it’s often a great idea to install grab bars around your home in areas like the bathroom, stairs without a railing, and long hallways.
2. Vision Impairment
The deteriorating vision that can come with aging can be a major risk factor for falls.
You can’t avoid what you can’t see. Tasks such as going up and down stairs require precise visual feedback to be performed safely.
One good way to counteract these problems is to get regular vision checkups. This will keep your prescriptions up to date and catch conditions like glaucoma and cataracts as early as possible.
Different Types of Glasses
Tint-changing glasses can be a risk when changing from inside to outside, but that doesn’t mean you need to get rid of them. It just means you should take a moment when moving from inside to outside (or vice versa) to allow your glasses to adjust.
Similarly, bifocals can cause difficulties on stairs, when the wearer must look forward and down at their feet through two different prescriptions. Simply being aware of these risks is a good step towards avoiding falls.
Improving Home Lighting
Another way to counteract vision impairment is to improve and maintain the lighting in your home.
Thoroughly lighting your rooms so that there aren’t dark patches in your house throughout the day can reduce the risk of tripping over hidden obstacles. You may also want to make allowances for light at night, like leaving on a bathroom light or night lights.
3. Low Physical Strength
Many falls are due to a lack of exercise, which leads to low physical strength. This in turn causes stiffness and affects things like balance which are crucially important to maintaining stability.
One good solution is to integrate exercise into your daily routine. It’s always okay to start small, and work within your means, as any amount of exercise will benefit your health.
Traditional walking aids can often hurt rather than help your physical health, possibly leading to balance issues. They can prevent you from strengthening your legs or core muscles, which are required for upright stability.
But the LifeGlider is different. It’s designed to increase your strength by engaging your core and leg muscles and helps improve your posture by keeping you upright as well.
4. Medication Effects
A major culprit is sleeping pills, which lead to dizziness and exhaustion. Be careful when taking sleeping pills or even other medication with “PM” in its name. Don’t try to move around too quickly, and remain aware of yourself and your surroundings.
Many people who use prescribed or over-the-counter medication are at an increased risk of falling due to side effects that can affect gait, reduce awareness, and cause changes in blood pressure.
Other common medications, such as anxiety medications, are also known to cause dizziness. Always check what sorts of side effects your medications may have.
If you take more than one medication, it’s an especially good idea to talk to your doctor about what sorts of effects they are likely to have, both on their own and in combination.
5. Dizziness Standing Up
If you ever feel light-headed or dizzy after standing up too fast, you have just experienced a phenomenon known as orthostatic hypotension. This happens when your blood pressure drops as you stand up, leading to the side effects mentioned above.
Orthostatic hypotension is not necessarily a sign of a deeper problem (although it can be), and happens to people of all ages. But if you’re already at risk of a fall, these episodes of dizziness may increase that risk.
This risk can be mitigated by staying hydrated and not remaining in bed for excessively long amounts of time. If the condition continues it may be worth talking to a doctor.
How the LifeGlider Prevents Falls
Choosing the right mobility aid is a very important part of preventing falls.
- Traditional walkers and canes encourage you to lean outward, shifting your center of balance away from center. This actually increases the risk of falls.
- The LifeGlider supports you at your center of gravity, keeping you upright with your base of support beneath you. This helps you maintain stability, fall-safe and hands-free.
That’s why there’s no better way to celebrate National Falls Prevention Week than with your new LifeGlider! If you are interested in learning more about whether the LifeGlider is right for you, reach out to us today.