1. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise!
That is our number-one tip. Exercise programs should include balance and strengthening to be effective in reducing falls risk. Balance exercises are those that challenge your balance, like standing on one foot (with a stable surface nearby for support if you need it), stepping outside your base to the sides and back, etc. Strengthening exercises involve using resistance to build muscle bulk and bones and can include use of weights, therapy bands, or your own body weight as resistance.
2. Check all Medications
Have your doctor or pharmacist check all your medications (including prescription and over-the-counter) for possible interactions and side effects -- like drowsiness, dizziness, and cognitive "slowing" -- that can increase falls risk.
3. Beware of Dangers in the Home
For example, remove obstacles such as throw rugs, electrical/phone cords, and clutter, so there's a clear path through every room. In the bathroom, don't use towel rails or toilet roll holders for support -- instead have grab bars properly installed by a professional or a handyman.
4. "Pump the Gas"
If you get up during the night to use the bathroom, sit for a moment or two before standing to give your blood pressure a chance to adjust to your upright position. "Pump the gas": Point and flex your feet a few times to get the blood flowing. This is one of our favorite tips, because most people don't understand why they fall when they get out of bed, and it's a simple strategy that has helped many people. "Pumping the gas" is also useful after sitting for extended periods, like at the movies or dinner (especially in winter, when people tend to be sitting for long holiday meals), or when watching TV.
5. Wear Shoes
It's important to wear shoes both inside and outside the house. Well-fitting shoes that support your feet and have low, flat, wide heels; a back; and nonslip soles are safest. Have a dedicated indoor pair if you don't like to wear outdoor shoes inside. Avoid long, loose, flowing clothing that may trip you.
More Suggestions to Make Your Home Safer:
- Have adequate lighting in each room, and easy-to-reach light switches at the entrance to every room.
- Tack down rugs with double-sided carpet tape to make sure that rugs don't slip and that the corners sit flat.
- Have a sturdy step stool, with a bar and nonskid steps for reaching high places. Better still, move frequently used items to within reach (waist height), and regularly check and change light bulbs, or retrieve seasonal items so your parents don' have to climb up to get things.
Other home-hazard-reduction suggestions can be found at the following websites: