How Older Adults Can Manage Their Risk of Falls

Falls are one of the leading causes of injury in older adults. While there is no sure way to prevent falls, there are several strategies to help manage the risk for you or someone you love.

Older adults are at an increased risk for falls because they can struggle to maintain balance. There are many parts of the body that must work together to provide our sense of stability. Medical conditions, such as vertigo or peripheral neuropathy, and some medications can interfere and put you at risk. Your doctor can help you determine if a condition or medication can predispose your risk. Environmental conditions such as wet or icy surface can also increase your risk of falling.

If you’re not very confident in your ability to avoid a fall, know there are ways to mitigate your risk. Decreasing trip hazards and being vigilant about safe behaviors can drastically improve the odds of staying on your feet.

Here are some tips and tricks to avoid a fall:

  • Declutter your home. Take a look around the house and ask yourself the following:
    • Is my house well lit?
    • Are my walkways clear?
    • Do I see electrical cords I could trip on?
  • Look at the environment around you. The more aware you are, the less likely you are to fall.
    • Is the side walk wet or icy?
    • Am I walking on a flat surface like pavement or an uneven surface like sand?
    • Is there a rail I can use going up stairs?
    • Are there people or animals around that could distract or potentially bump into me?

Exercise is also an effective strategy to not only improve your health but also improve your balance. There are many exercises that can be done to train the systems that interpret balance in the body. Performing an exercise with eyes open or closed, exercises done on uneven surfaces, and strength training are examples of exercises that will not only improve your balance but can also help you lead a healthier, more independent lifestyle.

If you’re concerned about your fall risk or know someone who may be at risk for a fall, check out a new program from South Shore Hospital’s Center for Physical Wellness. “Function More, Fall Less” is a new fall risk management program starting in June. This one hour educational and exercise class meets twice a week and educates participants on trip hazards and promoting safe and healthy habits while also improving balance and increasing muscular strength.

For more information or to register for “Function More, Fall Less,” email Jennifer Logan at jlogan@southshorehealth.org or call (781) 624- 4367.