Expert Tips for Maintaining Overall Well-Being and Independence

By Karen Russell, Director of Client Care at Home Care Assistance

Every year, more than one out of four adults age 65 or older fall, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those who fall, more than 800,000 are hospitalized because of injuries, usually to the head or hip.

“Once a person experiences a fall, it can limit mobility and independence. This, in turn, decreases the individual’s ability to perform everyday tasks,” said Karen Russell, Director of Client Care for Home Care Assistance. Russell added, “Even if a fall doesn’t result in an injury, it can still cause fear in an individual, which can hinder his or her independence.”

Russell said exercise and physical therapy can benefit someone who has experienced a fall. Combined, they can help a person regain strength, alleviate pain and recover other abilities that are essential to overall well-being and independence. In addition, physical therapy plays a key role in helping to prevent future falls by improving movement, balance, and agility.

Common causes of falls may include:

  • A decline in physical fitness
  • Impaired vision
  • Medications (four or more increases the risk for falls)
  • Chronic diseases
  • Surgical procedures
  • Environmental hazards
  • Pain
  • Osteoporosis

The majority of falls in the elderly population occur in or around the home. These can be caused by poor lighting, clutter, loose carpets, slick floors and lack of safety equipment.

To help prevent falls at home, Russell suggests following home-modification tips:

  • Keep rooms free from clutter.
  • Install handrails, grab bars and shower mats, and remove throw rugs.
  • Light up dark areas of the home.
  • Remove or tape down any loose carpets or electrical wires.
  • Ensure telephones can be easily reached from the floor.
  • Replace chairs that are too low to the ground or difficult to get out of.
  • Install night lights throughout the home, especially in bathrooms and stairwells.
  • Review medications regularly with your physician or pharmacist.

In addition to home modifications, a change in wardrobe also can help prevent falls. Wear sensible, non-slip footwear and avoid wearing loose clothing. Make sure to also talk with your family and care providers about your falling risks.

Karen Russell is a Certified Master Trainer for FallProofTM, a balance and mobility training program offered at our office free to our clients and at a nominal fee to the community. To learn more about falls prevention and programs offered at Home Care Assistance, call 928-771-0105 or email krussell@homecareassistance.com