Written by guest blogger Aaron Hall, Best Company
It’s easy to think that you will never experience a debilitating fall, but the reality is that by age 65, more than a third of all citizens will fall at least once every year. And the older you get, the more devastating the consequences can be. Thankfully, there are some simple steps you can take to better fall-proof your home and make it a safer place for your loved ones. Here are some simple rules you can follow.
Regular exercise is important because it increases your strength and balance. But there are other types of exercises that will increase your endurance and flexibility. Here are some recommended exercises that will work on these four traits:
- Brisk walking
- Lifting weights
- Using a resistance band
- Tai Chi
- Water aerobics
Exercising regularly, along with a healthy diet, also prevents diseases that deteriorate your body. This includes heart disease, diabetes, or issues with your thyroid, nerves, feet, and blood vessels. Remember to drink plenty of water before and after exercising, wear appropriate clothing (especially shoes), and be alert to your surroundings.
Have Your Eyes and Ears Checked
It’s important to get an eye exam at least once per year, especially if you’ve already been wearing glasses for a long period of time. As you get older, your hearing and eyesight will deteriorate. Eye problems associated with age include age-related macular degeneration (also known as AMD), glaucoma, and cataracts. The more often you visit the eye doctor, the more likely you’ll catch these problems and be able to treat them.
Your hearing is just as important. Get your hearing checked once per year after the age of sixty. Problems with your inner ear can disrupt balance, which will inevitably lead to a fall. Consulting with a trusted hearing professional is the best course of action to take. In some cases, hearing aids might be recommended.
Wear the Right Shoes
When you wear shoes without backing like sandals or slippers, it makes your likelihood for a fall greater because it’s easy to misstep. So naturally, when you wear shoes that are more snug and durable, it decreases your chance for a fall. Look for shoes with some of these features:
- Rubber soles
- Marked as "non-skid"
Finding shoes that fit these descriptions can be found at any department store.
Less Alcohol, More Sleep
Drowsiness and intoxication are catalysts for falls. It’s a good rule of thumb to get eight hours of sleep at any age because getting a proper amount of sleep will make you more alert and attentive throughout the day.
When it comes to alcohol, limit your use. If you’re going to drink, it’s a good idea to make sure someone is with you to help you get around, if necessary. Mingling alcohol with various medications can also be dangerous. Consult with a doctor to understand what your consumption can be and what you should keep away from.
Use An Assistive Device
Walkers or canes are a great way to create another point of balance. It’s best to consult with a doctor to consider which is right for you, but some of these devices are so inexpensive it may not be necessary. Canes and walkers will vary in size and build, so if you decide that these are right for you, make sure you test out multiple products to feel out which one is most comfortable. This will help particularly when you’re out and about traversing uneven surfaces.
If you haven’t previously experienced a fall, a cane is likely the best choice. Canes aren’t cumbersome, come in a variety of styles and materials, and are often adjustable. If you feel like you need just a little more help with your balance, canes with multiple feet are also available. Depending on the extent of previous injuries you’ve suffered, consider crutches or a walker. These are more expensive but present more points of balance for the user.
Clean Up Stairways and Hallways
If you have stuff laying around in walkways, your fall risk automatically increases. Do what you can to clear away those old boxes that have remained in your hallway for too long. It’s also a good idea to consider installing a rail in hallways and especially in stairways. Most stairways should come with railings already installed, and if so, make sure to check them for sturdiness.
While you’re at it, change the light bulbs to make sure these walkways are well-lit so you can see any obstructions that might come up in your path. People in their sixties need three times as much ambient light as people in their twenties, so the more light, the better.
Medical Alert Devices
These devices won’t necessarily prevent a fall, but if a fall does happen despite your preventative measures, these are some of the best safety tools to have in case of an emergency. With a medical alert device, you can press a button and have trained medical staff at your home in just a matter of minutes. You can find some of the top rated medical alert companies here.
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