By Ellen Vaillant
This week, September 21st-25th, isl National Falls Prevention Week. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1 in 4 adults 65 and older will fall each year. Falls are the leading cause of accidental death and injury among older adults with 29 million falls and 28,000 deaths every year. Wisconsin has the highest rate of deadly falls in the country, which seems to stem from our icy winters and tendency to drink excessively. Falls can also lead to a loss of independence. Oftentimes, falls result in being admitted to a nursing home. But falls should not be accepted as a normal part of aging - there are ways to prevent them!

How Can You Prevent Falls?

Be aware of your personal risk factors

  1. Go for an annual eye check-up. You may need to update your prescription, and an optometrist can check for cataracts or glaucoma. Your vision can impact your ability to balance greatly.
  2. Have your healthcare provider check on your feet and discuss proper footwear with them.
  3. Some medications will make you sleepy or dizzy, which can impair your ability to balance. Have your doctor or pharmacist review your medications for these side effects.
  4. Take this survey from the National Council on Aging to assess your risk level.

Improve your balance with exercise

  1. Attend one of the Madison Senior Center’s online Tai Chi Fundamentals classes. Every Friday from 1-2pm, those of all abilities are invited to improve their core strength, stamina, and balance with Tai Chi. Find more details and learn how to register here.
  2. Follow along with some of these videos from Dane County’s Safer Communities organization for balance-improving exercises.

Make your living space safer

  1. Move items such as books, papers, clothing, and shoes that you could trip over away from stairs and walkways.
  2. Get rid of small throw rugs or use double-sided tape to keep them in place.
  3. Install grab bars next to the toilet and inside the tub.
  4. Place non-slip mats in the bathtub and shower.

While their programming is currently suspended due to COVID-19, Stepping On is a 7-week workshop that provides all-encompassing information on preventing falls. Find more information here when the program resumes.

If you are looking for more tips, the National Council on Aging has gathered a panel of experts. You can watch them on Wednesday, September 23rd at 5:30pm by going here.

Don’t let a fall take away your quality of life! Take action today to understand the risk, build your balance and strength, and prepare your living space.

This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison - Madison Senior Center and a link back to the original post.