A holistic approach to fall prevention

April 27, 2018

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

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