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September 20, 2021

5 Tips for Older Adults to Help Prevent Falls

Gabe Moreno - Email

(SALT LAKE COUNTY)—The coronavirus pandemic has changed many aspects of everyday life. One thing that’s still the same? Falling is NOT a normal part of aging.

The Salt Lake County Health Department (SLCoHD) and Salt Lake County Aging and Adult Services (SLCoAAS) are committed to empowering all older adults in Salt Lake County to age well, and that includes avoiding falls. From September 20–24, 2020, we are partnering with the National Council on Aging (NCOA) to observe Falls Prevention Awareness Week.

Falls remain a leading cause of injury for people aged 65 and older. Falls threaten older adults’ safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs. However, through practical lifestyle adjustments, evidence-based falls prevention programs, and clinical-community partnerships, the number of falls among older adults can be substantially reduced.

  1. Know the conditions that may make you more prone to falling
    Certain conditions, known as risk factors, may contribute to falling, but luckily, they can be addressed with your medical provider once identified. These risk factors can include lower body weakness; difficulties with walking and balance; medicines such as tranquilizers, sedatives, or antidepressants; foot pain or poor footwear; and vision problems.
  2. Exercise regularly
    Regular exercise helps keep your muscles strong. Engage in activities that focus on balance, flexibility, and strength training to help maintain healthy joints, ligaments, and tendons. Regular exercise also helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis and keeps your bones healthy.
  3. Review your medication regularly
    More medication intake can increase risk of falling. Many medications have side effects that include dizziness, sleepiness, confusion, or weakness. Your doctor can review your medications for side effects and interactions that may increase your risk of falling. To help with fall prevention, your doctor may consider weaning you off medications that make you tired or affect your thinking.
  4. Check your vision and hearing annually
    As your eyesight ages, less light reaches your retina. This makes it more difficult to see obstacles, tripping hazards, and edges. Poor vision and hearing can increase your chance of falling. Ask your medical provider to check your eyesight and hearing.
  5. Go slow and use help
    It’s not uncommon to feel a little unsteady and lightheaded immediately after standing up. Practice standing up slowly, and take a moment to get your bearings, so you don’t fall when you start to move.