Health News Articles

How to Help Fall-Proof Your Life

Nov 7, 2013
A trip, slip or stumble: Whatever you call them, falls are a common, dangerous problem among older adults. Yet, with a few common sense safety measures and regular checkups with your healthcare provider, many falls can be prevented.

“Falls are a significant problem, but many people forget or are reluctant to talk to their healthcare providers about them,” says Jose Vigario, DO, a geriatrician with Princeton Medicine. “Even if you are not injured, you and your provider can discuss steps to prevent future incidents.”

One in three adults 65 and older experiences a fall each year. While many falls are related to neurological conditions such as stroke and multiple sclerosis or arthritis and other muscle and bone issues, others can be traced to the home environment.

Dr. Vigario and Linda A. Lucuski, MPT, Cert. MDT, Rehab Director with Princeton Rehabilitation Services, offer these tips on preventing falls:

Fall-proof your home. Secure loose carpets and add traction to slippery surfaces. Make sure stairs have handrails on both sides. Add grab bars to showers and raise toilet seats. Make sure you have proper lighting. Many falls happen during middle-of-the-night bathroom trips.

Stay on top of your health. Seek medical advice for any symptoms of lightheadedness or vertigo. Because drug interactions can cause balance problems, review any new prescription and over-the-counter medications with your provider. Have your eyes checked at least once a year.

Use the right equipment. Avoid socks and slippers on smooth floors. Opt for shoes with rubber soles and lower heels. Make sure canes and walkers are expertly fitted.

Get strong and balanced. Walking and other regular exercise can strengthen muscles that provide balance. Physical therapy can relieve symptoms of dizziness and vertigo and improve balance. Therapists can also provide at-home exercises to improve balance.

“Balance is a skill like anything else,“ Lucuski says. “With proper training and practice, balance can be improved and falls prevented.”

For assistance finding a geriatrician affiliated with Princeton HealthCare System, or for more information about Princeton Rehabilitation Services, call 1.888.PHCS4YOU (1.888.742.7496) or visit www.princetonhcs.org.