Published on September 10, 2020

Preventing falls as we age

By Sarah Swift

Have you ever fallen?

Is it something you worry about?

Is your balance not what it used to be?

Do you know anyone who has fallen?

Studies show that 1 in 4 adults, 65 and older, experience a fall every year. Falls may seem inevitable, a normal part of aging, but they do not all have to be. Falls happen for many different reasons, but fortunately some factors are within your control. There are several things you can do to reduce your likelihood of falling: so let’s think twice and act once.

  1. Get your vision checked yearly. Vision plays an enormous role in your ability to move without falling or tripping over obstacles.
  2. Ask your doctor if any of your medications have side effects that could affect your balance.
  3. Set your home up for success. Removing throw rugs is a great first step, but be sure your home is well lit and free of clutter that might be a tripping hazard (cords, chair legs, shoes, etc.). Other good ideas include placing grab bars in your bathroom and having non slip mats in the shower. When getting in and out of the shower consider the possibilities and risks of falling, do you need a bath chair? Is your phone nearby, just in case?
  4. Stay active and get involved in an exercise program! Maintaining and even gaining strength in your arms and legs and including certain daily balance activities have been proven to reduce the risk of falling. If you are looking for a group exercise program that addresses these factors and provides further education to improve your balance and safety, the Owensboro Health Healthpark offers a 12-week Fall Prevention Program.
  5. As you get dressed, consider the following questions to assess and check for potential falling hazards: do your shoes provide appropriate traction? Do they fit well? Are your pants too long?
  6. As the winter months approach, remember to keep your hands out of your pockets and think twice before getting out when the ground is icy and snow covered.

Before stepping on a ladder to change a light bulb or put up a holiday decoration, could you ask someone else to help or do it for you? Think twice before going up or down stairs, and assess the stairs and environment. Before jumping out of bed to rush to the bathroom or answer the phone, take your time, think twice and act once!

Hopefully, these tips will help you and your loved ones reduce the likelihood of sustaining a fall. Remember to stay physically active. For more information about the Fall Prevention Program at the Healthpark, please call 270-688-5433.

Sarah Swift is a group exercise instructor at the Owensboro Health Healthpark.

About Owensboro Health

Owensboro Health is a nonprofit health system with a mission to heal the sick and to improve the health of the communities it serves in Kentucky and Indiana. The system includes Owensboro Health Regional Hospital, nationally recognized for design, architecture and engineering; Owensboro Health Muhlenberg Community Hospital; Owensboro Health Twin Lakes Medical Center; the Owensboro Health Medical Group comprised of over 200 providers at more than 20 locations; three outpatient Healthplex facilities, a certified medical fitness facility, the Healthpark; a surgical weight loss center and program, and the Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center.

On average each year, we have 16,000 inpatient admissions, deliver 2,000 babies and provide the region’s only Level III NICU. Owensboro Health physicians perform nearly 24,000 surgical procedures, including nearly 200 open-heart surgeries. Our physicians and staff have 70,000 Emergency Department visits, more than a million outpatient visits annually. Visit our home page for more information.