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-Steps to Prevent Falls

 

Open our Gift of Home Safety brochure to find practical falls prevention gift ideas to help keep older family members and friends safe.


Seniors can take several steps to prevent falls and help maintain independence.

Step 1: Begin a regular exercise program

Exercise is one of the most important steps to reduce your chances of falling. A lack of exercise leads to weakness, which increases your risk of falling. Exercise makes you stronger, makes you feel better, and offers many other health benefits. To prevent falls, exercises that improve balance and coordination are the most helpful. Ask your doctor or health care provider about the best type of exercise program for you. Remember, restricting activity and exercise after a fall can actually increase your risk of falling.

Sure Steps Tip
Make your exercise program a fun social activity:

  • Find an exercise buddy
  • Find a senior fitness class at one of Johnson County's many recreation or fitness centers
  • Download You're Never too Old to Play!, an active lifestyle resource guide for Johnson County seniors, to learn about fitness and recreational activities. 

Step 2: Review your medicines

Have your health care provider review your medicines. Ask your doctor or a pharmacist to review all the medicines you take, even over-the-counter medicines. As you get older, the way medicines work in your body can change. Some medicines, or combinations of medicines, can make you sleepy or dizzy and can cause you to fall.

Sure Steps Tip

As you increase the number of medications that you take, your risk of falls may increase. Ask your health care provider to review your medication list for medicines which you may no longer need or that may increase your risk for medication-related falls. Medication & Falls Risk Chart Prepared by Jeffrey Reist, Pharm.D., BCPS, University of Iowa College of Pharmacy.

  • The Sure Steps Coalition has partnered with the Iowa Geriatric Education Center to provide assessment tools and research for health care professionals and in-home service providers

Step 3: Have your vision and hearing checked

Poor vision can increase your chances of falling. Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year. You may be wearing the wrong glasses or have a condition like glaucoma, cataracts, or macular degeneration that limits your vision.

Poor hearing can also increase your risk of falling. Research shows that those with poor hearing often suffer from falls. Hearing problems can affect your balance, make it harder to avoid environmental hazards, and contribute to decreases in activity which leads to loss of strength, flexibility, and balance.

Step 4: Make your home safer

About half of all falls happen at home. Many fall or tripping hazards are easy to fix. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends these steps to make your home safer:

  • Remove things you can trip over (such as papers, books, clothes, and shoes) from stairs and places where you walk.
  • Remove small throw rugs or use double-sided tape to keep the rugs from slipping.
  • Keep items you use often in cabinets you can reach easily without using a step stool.
  • Have grab bars put in next to your toilet and in the tub or shower.
  • Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors.
  • Improve the lighting in your home.
  • Have handrails and lights put in on all staircases.
  • Wear shoes both inside and outside the house. Avoid going barefoot or wearing slippers.

Sure Steps Tip

Night lights are available in a variety of energy efficient and decorative styles. Visit your local home supply store to find lights that:

  • Are motion activated
  • Automatically come on at night
  • Come with batteries to keep you safe even if your electricity goes off 
  • Have long-lasting bulbs

Home Accessibility & Maintenance Assistance Programs

Basic home maintenance, simple wheelchair ramp construction, and installation of home safety items are now available to seniors and those with disabilities through Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity programs: www.IowaValleyHabitat.org.