Falls are the leading cause of injury death for Americans 65 years and older. Every year about 35–40 percent of adults 65 and older fall at least once. Among those that fall, 20–30 percent suffer moderate to severe injuries, including fractures and head trauma.
Many people who fall, even if they are not injured, develop a fear of falling. This fear of falling causes a decrease in activity, which leads to reduced mobility and loss of physical fitness, and actually increases their actual risk of falling.
According to Dr. Jeremy Osmond, director of rehabilitation at Provo Nursing and Rehab, there is an easy way to help us prevent falls. He compiled an action plan into four easy-to-remember tips using the acronym, MESH.
Be mindful of medications. Some medications and/or combinations of medications can cause dizziness or drowsiness. These side effects are directly related to falls. Have a doctor or pharmacist look at your medication list to determine if you are at risk of these possible side effects.
Related link: 4 ways your foods interfere with your medications
Get some exercise. Even just getting out and walking or doing mild but consistent exercise programs will increase your general lower extremity strength and make falls much less likely.
Related link: Best exercise for older adults
Keep your vision sharp. Poor vision can make it very difficult to get around safely. Make sure to have your eyes checked annually and follow the recommendations given to you for glasses or contacts to ensure you are seeing clearly.
Eliminate hazards at home. About 50 percent of falls happen in homes, so a home safety check can help identify potential fall hazards, such as tripping hazards, clutter, and poor lighting. If you need a second pair of eyes to evaluate potential hazards in your home, check with your doctor or rehabilitation therapist to see if a representative can visit your home to identify possible hazards.
If you are worried about the safety of your loved one, remember MESH. It offers helpful tips to a safer home and independent living.