Research shows that one in four retirees will experience a fall each year. Falls can result in cuts, broken bones and head trauma—and these injuries can lead to other physical injuries, depression and social isolation. More than 75 percent of older adults’ falls happen either inside or nearby their homes, which means taking preventive measures can make a significant difference.
The Following Often Contribute to or Lead to Falls:
- Chronic conditions – More than 80 percent of older adults have at least one chronic condition like diabetes, stroke or arthritis.
Care Experts Offer the Following Tips for Preventing Future Falls
Some solutions are easy to install and are relatively inexpensive.
- Install handrails and lights on staircases; place light switches at the top and bottom of the stairs.
- Install a handrail in the shower, as well as non-slip mats for your shower or tub and bathroom floor.
- Consider getting a sturdy seat for the shower and a hand-held shower nozzle for bathing while sitting down.
- Add nonslip treads for wooden stairs without carpet.
- Store items you access often within easy reach.
- Clean up spills immediately.
- Place nightlights in the bathroom, bedroom and hallways.
- Have a lamp nearby your bed for easy access in the middle of the night.
- Create clear paths to light switches that aren’t near room entrances.
- Store working flashlights in places that are easy-to-access for use during power outages.
- Have your vision checked at least once a year, and only wear glasses that have your current prescription.
- Have your doctor review your medications regularly for potential side effects.
- Attend tai chi, yoga or water aerobics classes, go for walks or practice stretching to increase your flexibility and balance and strengthen your muscles and joints. Contact your local Council on Aging for information on what is available in your area. (Helpful tip: If your Medicare plan includes a fitness benefit, check the schedules at local participating facilities to see what options are available!)
- Wear nonslip, sturdy shoes that fit well.
- Remove obstacles in and around your house that could cause you to trip.
- When you’re at home, wear shoes instead of socks—or socks with nonslip treads—to prevent slipping.
- Wear clothes that fit well and pants that are not too long to avoid tripping over the hem.
- Consider using an assistive device like a cane or a walker to help with your balance.
- Consider purchasing and using a personal emergency response system unit to alert others when you need help.
- Consider moving to a one-level home to decrease interactions with stairs.
- Walk and move more carefully, pausing before you sit or start walking.
- Take advantage of the preventive benefits offered under Medicare, such as the Annual Wellness visit.
- Speak openly with your health care provider about your concerns.
- Make an appointment with your doctor to create a fall-prevention plan. During this meeting, you should review your current medications and be prepared to talk about things like previous falls you may have had, including when, where and how you fell. Also include instances when you almost fell but were caught by someone or caught hold of something in time.
Falling can cause injuries, regardless of what age you are. But the effects older adults experience as a result can be serious and long-lasting. Prevention can be key for safely living at home for years to come.
If you or a loved one has experienced a fall and you are curious about your insurance coverage options in the event of a fall that requires medical care, reach out to us at 1-866-600-5638 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment with one of our trusted advisors. If you are a current RetireMEDiQ client, please contact our Client Services team at 1-877-222-1942 or email@example.com for assistance.