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:
- 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