5 Tips to Reduce The Risk of Falls
March 20, 2019
As a kinesiologist, I am a huge fan of how exercise can improve the physical function of older adults. However, no matter how fit and healthy your older clients are, there is one thing that can change their lives forever: a bad fall! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 1/3 of older adults fall every year and many cause injuries that will affect them the rest of their lives. I have seen this firsthand with my own mother. Over the past several years, she has endured wrist, arm, hip and pelvic fractures due to falls that have greatly reduced her quality of life.
As a health or fitness professional, you need to be well-prepared to deliver the most effective fall prevention exercise programming to your clients. You can find the most innovative resource for assessment and program design at www.mobilitymatters.fit. But you also should be providing advice to your clients on how to reduce their fall risk in other ways than exercise. Have them follow this advice and keep them on their feet!
1. Many falls happen outside where there are lots of potential hazards. Advise your clients to avoid walking on loose gravel, metallic/painted surfaces and cracked sidewalks and avoid being outdoors in bad weather (e.g., rain, sleet, snow). Appointments can always be rescheduled, but a trip to the ER should never be the reason!
2. Indoors, advise your clients to make sure that their path from the bedroom to the bathroom is free from obstructions (e.g., pet toys, rumpled rugs) prior to going to bed at night – that way a trip to the bathroom will not include a trip and a fall!
3. Advise your older female clients to never wear high heeled shoes outdoors. Put their heels in a canvas tote bag and walk outside in sneakers or flats instead. Nobody looks good falling, no matter how stylish the shoes!
4. In the bathroom, advise your older clients to line the floor of their shower/tub with textured adhesive strips. These are less likely to cause a slip or a trip than a rubber bath mat that might slip or bunch up. They also give a nice pedicure!
5. Mismanaged medications are a serious danger that have been the cause for many falls. Incorrect dosages or interactions between different medications can lead to dizziness, disorientation, or confusion that can cause a fall in an instant. Have your senior take a list of medications to a pharmacist and ask for advice. Sometimes it is best to “Just Say No To Drugs!”
Although research continues to support exercise as the MOST IMPORTANT factor in reducing fall risk, make sure your clients are doing all the little things as well to keep living an active and healthy life.