How to Prevent Falls and Stay Safe

Falls are the leading cause of injury for people over 65 years of age. These injuries can result in decreased mobility and a loss of independence. Older adults with vision loss are twice as likely to fall as those without vision loss and are also more likely to sustain an injury if they do fall. Though not all falls result in an injury, once an older adult falls, they are twice as likely to fall again.  Prevention is critical for everyone!

How can I prevent myself from falling?

Be physically active
Physical activity strengthens muscles and increases flexibility and endurance. Strengthening muscles in your lower body can improve your balance. Discuss with your doctor or physical therapist an exercise plan that is right for you.

Review your medications
Review the medications that you take, including the nonprescription medicines, with your doctor to make sure none of them will make you feel dizzy, sleepy or cause confusion.

Get your blood pressure checked
In some older persons blood pressure may drop when standing up from a sitting or lying down position. If this happens to you, have the doctor check your blood pressure when sitting and lying down.

Have regular eye exams
Small changes in vision can make you less stable. Be extra cautious when using new eye glasses. Multi-focal glasses are especially hazardous since they can distort your sense of distance.

Use safe footwear
To maintain balance, foot wear should be low heeled, fit snugly, support the feet and have non-slip soles. Avoid wearing only socks or wearing floppy, backless slippers or shoes without backs. Shopping for new shoes is best done in the afternoon – your feet are at their largest later in the day. If you have fallen, be sure to tell your Care Team. They can recommend ways to avoid future falls.

Home Safety
Your home is where you should feel safe and secure. Follow the tips listed below to help you avoid injury at home.

Be careful in the kitchen:
• When cooking, avoid wearing clothes with loose fitting sleeves, as they could catch on fire.
• Keep the area around the stove clear of items that could catch fire, such as pot holders or towels.
• When cooking, do not lean over the stove, or leave it unattended.
• Do not use the oven to heat your home.
• Do not turn on the microwave unless there is food in it.
• Place frequently used items in easy to reach places.
• Dispose of food past its sell-by date.

In the bathroom:
• If you have separate faucets, run the cold water first and turn on the hot slowly to prevent burns.
• Use non-skid mats both inside and outside both bathtub and shower.
• Grab bars are important and should be properly installed.
• Medications should be stored in their original containers.

Watch your step:
• Pathways should be clear in all areas of the home.
• Make sure all electrical cords are covered or securely tacked or taped down.
• Wear non-skid footwear at all times.
• If you use a cane or a walker outdoors, consider using them indoors as well, to prevent falls.

Good lighting is needed:
• Ensure that all living areas are well-lit.
• Have a nightlight in the bathroom, bedroom and hallways.
• Keep a flashlight by the bedside.

Last but not least:
• Do not overload electrical sockets.
• Make sure your smoke detector works, and replace the batteries on your birthday.

Take action!
Lighthouse Guild provides a full spectrum of vision and healthcare services helping people with vision loss live fully and independently.