Ten Actions You Can Take to Overcome Your Fears of Falling

Updated: Apr 7

As we age or develop neurological conditions, our balance and being steady on our feet can be greatly impacted. So many older adults fear falling, and it becomes more common as people age -- even among those who haven't fallen. The fear of falling can even impact our willingness to participate in activities. More than one in three people age 65 and older falls each year. The risk of falling -- and fall-related problems -- rises with age.

Falling can be as simple as tripping on a rug or slipping on a wet floor. If you fall, you could break a bone like thousands of seniors do each year. And for older people, a break can be the start of more serious problems, even injury or disability.

Many things can cause a fall. Eyesight, hearing, reflexes, balance, and even some medication can induce potential falls. Most falls are more prevalent in those impacted by muscle weakness or problems with balance and gate. Confusion can also lead to falls.

But don't let the fear of falling keep you from being active and socially engaged with your loved ones and friends. Overcoming this fear can help you stay independent, active, maintain your physical health and prevent future falls. There are many things you can do to prevent most falls. They include:

  1. Stay Physically Active: Participating in regular exercise improves muscles and makes you stronger. 150 minutes of light exercise per week is recommended. Maintaining a healthy weight also makes falls less impactful.

  2. Calcium and Vitamin D: Keep your bones strong with added supplements.

  3. Regular Check-ups for Vision and Hearing: Even small changes in sight or hearing can cause you to fall. Make sure you always wear your glasses and/or hearing aids if needed.

  4. Medication Side Effects: A drug may make you drowsy and you should be extra careful after taking medications, especially new ones.

  5. Sleep: Getting the appropriate amount of sleep can help avoid induced drowsiness.

  6. Alcohol: Even a small amount of alcohol can affect your balance and reflexes.

  7. Get Up Slowly: Standing too quickly can cause your blood pressure to drop and make you wobbly.

  8. Use Assistive Devices: If you feel unsteady when you walk - don't be ashamed of using canes or walkers - we may all need them some day!

  9. Avoid Wet / Icy Surfaces: Be sure any potential slippery surfaces are avoided at all costs.

  10. Proper Shoes - Make sure the soles of your shoes are appropriate and always have rubber-gripped shoes or socks - especially when walking on non-carpeted floors or stairs.

If you do fall, it is important to try to stay as calm as possible. Try to take some deep breaths to relax and remain on the floor for a few minutes. This helps you get over the shock of falling. Ask yourself if you feel hurt anywhere before getting up. If you try to get up too soon, you could make any potential injuries worse.

If you can get up safely without help, roll onto your side and rest to let your blood pressure adjust. Then, slowly get up on your hands and knees to crawl to a sturdy chair. Slowly rise to sit in the chair.

If you are hurt or cannot get up on your own, ask someone for help or call 911. If you are alone, try to get into a comfortable position and wait for help to arrive. Carrying a mobile or portable phone with you around the house can help in these "what if" scenarios. Choosing to have an emergency response system, which lets you push a button on a special necklace or bracelet to call for help is also critical for those that live alone.

Be sure to report any falls you do have to your physician.

And if a loved one in your care falls, assess the situation carefully. If you are not able to assist without potential harm or injury to yourself, call 911. All EMT services will come to assist with falls on site. It may be good to get a second opinion to ensure there isn't a need for a check-up at the local ER. Especially if a fall has included a bump to the head.

For more information about falls and fall prevention, see the National Falls Prevention Resource Center at www.ncoa.org/center-for-healthy-aging/falls-resource-center/.

Engage Care Partners LLC can provide home safety assessments within the Greater Birmingham and Shelby County areas of Alabama to help you make affordable and sustainable home modifications to help prevent falls by removing common household hazards or adding necessary support products. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you setup your home for aging in place well, contact us at brooklyn.white@engagecarepartners.com or call 1.205.843.1908.

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