Each year one in four Americans ages 65 and older fall resulting in both fatal and non-fatal injuries including fractured hips, broken bones and head injuries. Many times falls lead to depression or fear among older adults, making it difficult for them to stay active. This month for Falls Prevention Week beginning Sept. 20 through Sept. 24, Indianapolis EMS (IEMS) and the National Council on Aging (NCOA) reminds individuals to help reduce the risk of falls among their grandparents, parents and neighbors by following the below tips to keep those close to you healthy and active.

  • Enlist their support in taking simple steps to stay safe.
    • Ask your older loved ones if they are concerned or know the risks of falling. If they are concerned, have them speak with their health care provider about assessing their risk of falling to help prevent future injuries.
  • Discuss their current health conditions.
    • If your loved one is experiencing problems with their health or having difficulties managing their health, help them set up a wellness exam with their health care provider.
  • Ask about their last eye checkup.
    • Poor vision or difficulty seeing can cause older individuals to fall more easily. Have them visit their eye doctor for an updated vision screening more frequently as they age.
  • Notice if they’re holding onto walls, furniture, or someone else when walking or if they appear to have difficulty walking or arising from a chair.
    • These are all signs that it might be time to see a physical therapist. A trained physical therapist can help your older loved one improve their balance, strength, and gait through exercise.
  • Talk about their medications.
    • If your loved ones are having trouble keeping track of their medications or experiencing negative side effects, have them speak with their health care provider. Incorrect use of medications can create unforeseen fall risks for older individuals. Medication regimens should be assessed regularly by medical professionals.
  • Do a walk-through safety assessment of their home.
    • There are many simple and inexpensive ways to make a home safer. For professional assistance, consult an Occupational Therapist. To help reduce falls, you can help your loved ones adjust home lighting, stairs and bathrooms to help prevent falling.
      • Lighting- increase lighting in areas of the home that are poorly lit or create hard to see tripping hazards.
      • Stairs- Check to make sure railings are secure and are placed on both sides of the stairs.

Bathrooms- Install grab bars in the tub/shower and near the toilet. Make sure they’re installed where your older loved one would actually use them. For even greater safety, consider using a shower chair and hand-held shower.

For more information about fall prevention, please visit the NCOA website at https://www.ncoa.org/professionals/health/center-for-healthy-aging/national-falls-prevention-resource-center/falls-prevention-awareness-week. IEMS wishes everyone a safe and healthy start to the fall season this year reminds anyone experiencing a medical emergency to dial 9-1-1 immediately.