Smart Moves Blog

A holitic approach to fall prevention

April 27, 2018

home physical therapy

Reducing fall risk effectively involves a holistic approach targeting the major risk factors.

Vision: check eyes annually, adjust glasses accordingly, and adapt home to cope with vision loss (good lighting, no clutter)

  • Age is the biggest risk factor for macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss.
  • Everyone over age 60 is at risk of developing glaucoma, which results in peripheral vision loss.
  • By age 80, more than half of all Americans have a cataract or had cataract surgery.

Medication and supplements: review all medications and supplements with your doctor or pharmacist and take as prescribed by your doctor

  • The following drug classes are associated with falls in older adults:

    • Antidepressants
    • Antipsychotics
    • Benzodiazepines (anti-anxiety drugs)
    • Sedatives (sleeping pills)
    • Antihypertensives (drugs for high blood pressure)
  • First generation antihistamines (Benadryl, drugs with “PM” next to the name, such as Advil PM) have a risk of poor coordination and confusion.
  • Vitamin D deficiency is associated with muscle weakness and falls.

Home safety: make your home safer, approximately 70% of falls occur in the home

  • Wipe up slippery floors
  • Ensure proper lighting (use photosensitive or motion activated lights at night)
  • Remove clutter
  • Tack down or remove throw rugs
  • Repair uneven surfaces
  • Go slowly up and down steps and use handrails
  • Make sure extension cords do not run across floor
  • Train pets
  • Repair or remove unstable chairs or tables
  • Raise toilet seat if too low
  • Install grab bars in bathroom

Strength and balance: strength and balance exercises reduce fall risk by around 40%

  • Join a group exercise class (ex. strength training for better balance or Tai Chi) at your local gym, or community or senior centers, or get in touch for a targeted strength and balance assessment and program
  • Keep moving, safely

Manju Thomas

Written by Manju Thomas who lives and works in New York. Follow her on LinkedIn.