Falls are a serious problem for older adults. They are very common, and adults who have had a fall are more likely to begin to limit their lifestyle in fear of it happening again—this is especially true for those who have been injured from a fall. Unfortunately, this can actually raise the risk of falling again in the future. Taking critical steps to protect yourself and minimize your risk of experiencing a fall is important for all seniors.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 1-in-4 adults 65 and older will fall at least once a year. Having impaired vision makes it more than twice as likely that a fall will occur. Due to this, it’s critical that aging seniors are careful about keeping their vision clear.
One thing seniors can do to improve their vision is to switch from bifocals and multifocal glasses to single-lens distance glasses when they’re outside of the home. According to a 2016 study published in the British Medical Journal, single-lens distance glasses reduced falls by nearly 40% for individuals around the age of 80. Bifocals and multifocal glasses are still useful for in-home purposes, such as reading, but single-lens distance glasses are the best option for clear distance vision.
Another way to keep your vision clear is to have ample lighting everywhere and to make it easily accessible. Set up night lights and motion sensor lights around the home, especially in areas that are used at night, such as a hallway between the bedroom and bathroom. Don’t forget to have proper outdoor lighting installed to make it easier to see pathways. Lighting can be put on a timer to ensure they come on when needed, be fully automatic, or smart assistants such as Alexa or Google Home can be used for easy voice activation.
Keep your body in shape to minimize the risk of falling. Strong legs are particularly helpful for keeping you upright, but they aren’t the only area of the body you should focus on. According to the AARP, sit-to-stand exercises are a great way to strengthen your quadriceps—the muscles in your thighs. Doing these quickly keeps your body familiar with fast movement and can improve your reaction time when you slip or trip.
Another important area of the body is your core, or your abdominal muscles. A strong core improves balance and keeps your body sturdy. According to Harvard Health, some of the best core exercises include bridges, planks, and opposite arm leg raises.
According to the AARP, another great form of exercise for older adults is tai chi because it improves proprioception and balance. Tai chi is a gentle version of martial arts that focuses on defense training, health benefits, and meditation.
One of the simplest ways to lower fall risk is to clear the clutter in your home. Make sure cords are safely tucked away where they aren’t tripping hazards, and keep all walking areas clear of small items. It is also important to make sure rugs are on a non-slip mat to prevent them from sliding and to prevent the corners from pulling up and becoming a hazard.
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