Falling down may not be an event of much concern for most young people. But as we age, falling becomes a much more frequent problem that can have devastating effects. According to the CDC, one in four Americans aged 65 or above experience a fall each year. And falls result in more than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths.
To help prevent these tragic results, the National Council on Aging’s (NCOA) Falls Free Initiative promotes National Fall Prevention Awareness Day on the first day of Fall. To support that mission, The Landing at Behrman Place Retirement Community in New Orleans shares the following fall prevention tips:
As the body ages, muscles and bones weaken, resulting in a loss of balance. And poor balance increases the risk of falls. The NCOA recommends talking to your doctor about starting an exercise program specifically targeted to improve your strength and balance. Begin with an exercise class or program that is appropriate for your age and skill level, and stick with it. It can take up to 50 hours over the course of six months to measurably improve your balance. But that consistency will pay off by lowering your risk of falling.
As you get older, your home may require some changes to remain safe for you. For example, you may need to remove throw rugs from your floors or use double-sided tape to make sure rugs do not move. Keep walkways and floors free from the clutter that could cause tripping. You may also consider installing safety features like handrails or switching out some of your light fixtures for improved visibility in your home.
Loss of balance and the resulting falls can be the result of symptoms that are not being managed by proper medication, or by the side effects of the medications themselves. Take all of your prescribed medications in order to manage symptoms that could increase your risk of falling, including high or low blood pressure, dizziness, sleep disruption, and other neurological symptoms. Be sure that you are taking all of your medications exactly as instructed, and that you are familiar with any possible side effects. Ensure that you are filling prescriptions at only one pharmacy so the pharmacist can properly evaluate your medication. Regularly check with your doctor to confirm the dosing, usage, and possible interactions of all of your medications.
Worsening vision can lead to falls, so it is important to stay on top of your eye health and vision correction. Book an appointment for an annual eye exam to determine if you need corrective lenses or have any ongoing eye conditions. If you require vision correction, wear it regularly. And because bi-focal, tri-focal or progressive lenses can distort your vision, you may wish to have separate reading glasses. Finally, heed your eye doctor’s recommendations about cataracts or other eye surgeries.
If you live alone, or if your family home is filled with fall risks such as uneven flooring or stairs, it may be time to consider relocating. Independent living communities such as The Landing at Behrman Place are designed not only for your comfort but also for your safety. All of the community’s floorplans are convenient and single-level. And with experienced staff available 24/7, you can have complete peace of mind that any situation will be handled professionally and quickly.
To learn more about becoming a resident at The Landing at Behrman Place Retirement Community, please visit