Fall Prevention 101

Six tips to minimize the risk of falling

By Alison Stanton

More than a quarter of adults 65 and older fall each year, and falling once doubles their chances of falling again, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And out of every five who fall, one is seriously injured.

Many falls, however, are preventable, says Exercise Physiologist Rhonda Zonoozi. In fact, at the Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing, Rhonda has helped hundreds of people learn how to improve their balance and minimize their fall risks.

Here are some of her tips:

Tip 1: Don’t resist the assistive devices

Rhonda tells a story about a client who began using a cane to help her walk. Some of the client’s friends teased her when they saw the cane. “She set them straight,” Rhonda says, “pointing out that their eye glasses assisted them with their vision, just like her cane assisted her with walking.”

Used properly, assistive devices such as canes, glasses, hearing aids, walkers and countless other devices, can improve our health, safety and quality of life. “It’s common for people to view assistive devices as signs of weakness or a decline in abilities,” Rhonda says. “The exact opposite is true. They can help us stay able-bodied.” 

Tip 2: Review medications annually with a doctor or pharmacist

Some medications may lead to an increased risk of falling, and some interact with each other. Review everything annually, including over-the-counter medications, herbs and supplements.

Tip 3: Keep an eye on your eyes and ears 

“It is important to have your eyes and ears checked regularly,” Rhonda says. Even mild hearing loss or impaired vision can increase one’s fall risk.

Tip 4: Wear “friendly” footwear

Shoes should fit and have good traction. Avoid walking around the house in socks or stockings. Keep your shoes on in the house or wear slippers that are non-slippery. 

Tip 5: Fall-proof your home

Make sure you have good lighting throughout the house, including night lights. Keep a flashlight by the bed to use if you get up in the dark. Keep pathways clear. Toss the throw rugs and keep pet toys picked up.

Tip 6: Build up lower-body muscles

“I cannot overemphasize the importance of having strong legs to help with fall prevention,” Rhonda says. “A simple exercise to build leg strength involves getting up and down out of a chair 10 to 15 times in a row without using your hands.”

Rhonda Zonoozi will present “Balancing Your Fall Risk” on
Friday, June 14, 1:30-3 p.m. 

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