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Slips, Slides, Stumbles and Staggers: How to Avoid These Potentially Deadly Hazards

The Center for Disease Control estimates that every 20 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall in the United States — and in that time, countless seniors are injured. Indeed, falls are one of the greatest threats to seniors living independently.

Fortunately, seniors can do much to prevent falls, and thus prevent the resulting broken bones and head injuries. At Bethesda Senior Living, we offer a number of safeguards in our communities to help keep our residents healthy and safe.

Here are a few tips for preventing falls, no matter where you live:

1. Talk With Your Doctor

Health-care providers represent an important line of defense against falls. We recommend seniors talk with their doctor to evaluate your risk for falling and steps you can take to stay safe. Be sure to let your doctor know if you have fallen (or almost fallen) in the past, and if you have any conditions such as dizziness or joint pain that may make you more prone to falling.

One of the best things you can do for yourself, at any age, is take care of your body. Eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly help keep the mind sharp and the body strong. Walking, swimming or balance exercises such as Yoga or Tai Chi are great ways to improve your balance, flexibility and muscle strength.

While dizziness from medication or poor flexibility might make you more likely to fall, hazards in your home are often the triggers for a fall. Boxes, electrical cords, coffee tables, loose rugs: it would be easy to trip on any of these things and more.

Ask your primary care physician to review all the medications you are taking, especially those prescribed by other specialists. The interactions of multiple prescriptions are a leading cause of dizziness and disorientation, and your physician may have an alternative. Your doctor or health-care provider may also recommend taking vitamin D supplements, as a vitamin D deficiency may make you more prone to falling.

At Bethesda, we perform a medical and functional assessment for all of our assisted living and memory care residents when they move in, giving special attention to risk for falls. We update this assessment regularly to ensure we are doing everything we can to help our residents remain safe and active.

2. Exercise Regularly to Stay Fit

Fitness is a cornerstone at all of our communities. That’s why we offer our residents routine exercise classes as well as access to physical therapy. Not only is a fitness class a fun activity to participate in several times a week – classes keep our residents strong and flexible.

The CDC has compiled a list of benefits for exercise in older adults. For example, one study among New Zealand women older than 80 shows that simple strength and balance training correlates with 40 percent reduction in falls.

3. Remove Hazards From Your Home

One of the best things you can do for your safety is to remove trip hazards. Look around your bedroom, your hallways, your living room and your kitchen. Pull trip hazards out of the high-traffic areas, tape down loose rugs and brighten your home with additional lamps and night lights so you can always see where you are walking. Be sure to use bright bulbs for maximum lighting.

The bathroom is a particularly dangerous area for falls. Consider installing nonslip mats in your shower or tub, as well as grab bars by the tub and toilet. Additionally, after bathing, wipe up water from the floor right away to remove the slip hazard.

We hope these tips help you stay safe, especially during these dark winter months indoors. For more information about Bethesda Senior Living, and about what our communities do to keep our seniors safe, healthy and independent, visit one of our communities today.