By Mary Block
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 25 % of adults age 65 and older fall and double their risk of falling again after the first event. Here are some helpful tips to guide you safely through 2023:
Practice getting up! It sounds unnecessary, but as we age, we lose agility and strength in our minor muscle groups. Those smaller, supportive fibers play a big role in how well we can balance ourselves. In addition to performing balance-boosting exercises to strengthen those fine muscle systems, position yourself flat on the floor, and develop a physical strategy for getting back up. Roll into a stable position, move onto all fours, then approach the nearest anchored object for leverage. If you routinely practice these moves, muscle memory will enable you to lessen your risk of falling a second time as you rise.
Improve bathroom safety! 60% of falls occur in the bathroom, so this is a great place to make some changes. Grab bars might first come to mind, but a safety pole is a great alternative! It is affordable, easy to install, and doesn’t require a handyman or contractor to put it in! It is a reinforced vertical tension bar that has either an ergonomic handle in the middle, or a straight support handle that is perpendicular to the main post. Position it between the toilet and shower, or position two in a larger space. They are simple to remove, so they go with you to a new home if you make a change!
Embrace Tech! Keep your smart phone with you at all times or invest in the newest smart watches. They can sense a fall and contact emergency services for you. Newer padded floor mats meant to soften falls in a hospital setting, can also alert staff or loved ones when they receive impact after someone has fallen out of bed. Built-in sensors recognize sudden pressure, then alert staff by sound or light to summon help.
Falling is not a normal part of aging. Be proactive so that you can continue safely enjoying your daily activities and time with family and friends in the new year!