1. Talk to your doctor
Begin your fall-prevention plan by making an appointment with your doctor. Be prepared to answer questions such as:
- What medications are you taking? Make a list of your prescription and over-the-counter medications and supplements, or bring them with you to the appointment. Your doctor can review your medications for side effects and interactions that may increase your risk of falling.
- Have you fallen before? Write down the details, including when, where and how you fell. Be prepared to discuss instances when you almost fell but were caught by someone or managed to grab hold of something just in time. Details such as these may help your doctor identify specific fall-prevention strategies and pin-point any particular areas that need improvement, ie- getting in and out of the shower/bath tub.
- Could your health conditions cause a fall? Certain eye and ear conditions may increase your risk of falls. Be prepared to discuss your health conditions and how comfortable you are when you walk — for example, do you feel any dizziness, joint pain, shortness of breath, or numbness in your feet and legs when you walk? Your doctor may evaluate your muscle strength, balance and your walking form.
2. Keep moving
With your doctor’s OK, consider activities such as walking, water workouts or Tai Chi — a gentle exercise that involves slow and graceful dance-like movements. Such activities reduce the risk of falls by improving strength, balance, coordination and flexibility.
3. Keep your living space bright
- Place night lights in your bathroom, bedroom and all hallways.
- Place a light close to your bed for any middle of the night instances.
- Make clear paths to light switches that aren’t near room entrances. Consider trading traditional switches for glow-in-the-dark or illuminated switches.
- Turn on the lights before going up or down stairs.
- Store flashlights in easy-to-find places in case of power outages.
For more information or questions on Falls Prevention please contact the Office for The Aging/NY Connects office at 315-867-1371. Or visit the OFA website at www.herkimercounty.org, go to departments, then to Office for The Aging.