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September 30, 2014

8 Small Changes You Can Make Today to Prevent Falls

New habits can be difficult to adopt. While changing your diet and beginning a new exercise routine will help prevent falls, the time and effort involved in making such a change is often intimidating. However, just because you aren’t ready to face the big habits doesn’t mean you can’t still make small changes to reduce your risk of falling. We’ve put together a list of quick and easy changes you can make to your routine to avoid serious injury from a fall. We suggest going through the list and seeing how many changes you can make this month—you can probably even knock several of them out this afternoon! 

  1. Slow down and think through the task you are performing: Whether you’re reaching for a mug from the top shelf in the kitchen or stepping out of the shower, falls often happen when we least expect them. Always be mindful of the possibility of falling and act accordingly.

  2. Trade in your slippers for non-slip shoes: As comfortable as they may be, slippers are not the safest footwear. The same is true of socks or bare feet. Instead, wear non-slip sneakers around the house to give yourself better traction. 

  3. Lift your feet: Pay attention to how you walk. Do you shuffle or drag your feet? If so, focus on lifting your feet with each step and keeping your walking strides the same length. 

  4. Only walk on well-lit pathways: Avoid walking on poorly lit pathways both indoors and out, even if you’ve walked them hundreds of times before. Do not take shortcuts through yards or other open outdoor spaces, as you may not be able to see small holes or other fall hazards. 

  5. Stand up slowly: Once you’ve been sitting or lying down for a period of time, take your time getting to your feet, as standing up quickly can cause lightheadedness. Make sure you are fully awake and alert before standing.

  6. Carry your cell phone at all times: Are you the type to leave your cell phone on the kitchen counter when you head outdoors for yard work or to run a few quick errands? While it doesn’t need to be glued to your hand at all times, you should always keep your cell phone on your person in case of emergency. If you do not have a cell phone, consider wearing a medical emergency device.

  7. Ask for help: In our quest to remain independent, we often perform tasks we aren’t well suited for. Cleaning out the gutters or taking a brawny, newly trained dog for walks, for example, are jobs often better left to professionals or trusted friends.

  8. Use your walking aids: Walking aids provide many older adults with the support and confidence they need to remain independent. If your health care professional has recommended a walking aid, be sure to use it. If you feel you could use a walking aid, talk to your physician to learn your options. Do not use someone else’s walking aid or lean on non-walking aid objects (such as chairs or grocery carts).

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by changing some of your bigger habits, try starting small when it comes to preventing falls. Think of it this way: If you stand up slowly, lift your feet when you walk, and keep your cell phone in your pocket, you’ve already made three small changes.

Want to make even more changes to reduce your risk of falling today? Download our “Home Fall Prevention Checklist for Older Adults” today!

Home Fall Prevention Checklist


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