Preventing falls is a crucial part of keeping yourself safe and independent. Most falls occur at home and most broken bones result from falls at home.

Falls can cause serious injury to people of all ages, but for older adults, falls can lead to a tragic loss of independence and mobility. Falls are responsible for 95% of all hip fractures and are the top cause of injury death in older adults.

Simple changes to the inside of your house — such as in furniture arrangement or lighting — can cut your risk of falling in half. Other conditions contribute to falls, including the following:

  • Lower body weakness
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Difficulties with walking and balance
  • Medications such as tranquilizers, sedatives, antihypertensives or antidepressants
  • Vision problems
  • Foot pain or poor footwear
  • Environmental hazards, such as throw rugs or clutter that can cause tripping

A combination of risk factors causes most falls. The more risk factors a person has, the greater their chances of falling. Many risk factors can be changed or modified to help prevent falls.

Questions to ask yourself to determine risk for falls are as follows:

Do you feel unsteady when standing or walking?

Do you have worries about falling?

Have you fallen in the past year? If yes, how many times? Were you injured?

If you answered yes, speak to your physician about your condition or fall.

FALL MYTHS VS. FACTS

Myth: Other people fall; that won’t happen to me.

Fact: Every second, an older adult falls. More than one in four older adults will fall once this year.

Myth: One fall isn’t a big deal.

Fact: If you fall, your risk of falling again doubles.

Myth: Falling is a normal part of aging.

Fact: Although many older adults fall, you can reduce your risk. Taking steps to prevent falls can keep you safe and independent.

FIVE WAYS TO REDUCE FALLS

1. Talk to your doctor

Your healthcare provider can tell you about fall precautions you can take to stay safe at home. Your doctor or pharmacist can also look at your medication list. See your eye doctor for an annual exam to update your glasses because poor vision can increase your risk of falling.

2. Be careful on the stairs

Stairs are a potential fall hazard. While living in a one-level home is best, that isn’t always possible. Make sure your stairs are well-lit and have handrails on both sides. Add non-slip treads to reduce your chances of a slip-and-fall.

3. Make your home safer

Fall prevention products can keep you safe at home. These products can increase your safety in the bathroom, from raised toilet seats to shower chairs. Install grab bars throughout your home and use a grabber for any objects you can’t reach to reduce your chance of falls.

4. Get moving

Exercising improves your strength and balance, reducing your risk of falls. Find a balance class, Tai Chi class or other fitness programs near you. They may offer free courses if you live in an independent or assisted living facility.

5. Be prepared for falls

Even with precautions, falls happen. Keep a phone on each level that you can reach from the floor in case you fall and can’t get up. A Guardian Alert 911 or a similar medical alert necklace makes it easier to call 911 for help if you need it.

For further assistance with anything in this article, please call 211 to get information from the correct organization that can help you. 

 BCOA meetings are open to the public and are held the

second Thursday of each month at the government center

in Viera. For information, contact Cindy Short at 321-633-

2076, FAX 321-633-2170, cindy.short@brevardfl.gov, brevardfl.gov/HumanServices/CommissionOnAging or at 2725 Judge Fran Jamieson Way, B-106, Viera, FL 32940.