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Fall Prevention Basics

Fall Prevention Basics

Five Ways to Improve Your Balance and Stability

1. Talk to your doctor.

Multiple factors contribute to fall risk, such as osteoporosis, aging, changes in balance and walking patterns, changes in vision and sensation, and taking multiple medications. Your doctor can identify which of your health factors contribute to falling and advise you on how to address them.

2. Continue—or begin—exercising.

You can improve your balance through various types of physical activity. Pick a gentle exercise such as walking, water workouts or tai chi to reduce your risk of falls by improving strength, balance, coordination, and flexibility. Make sure to talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

3. Fall-proof your home.

Making small changes to your home can help prevent falls as well. Make sure every room is well lit and that there are clear pathways between rooms. Clutter is not your friend and night lights are. Consider replacing furniture you find difficult to get out of and removing throw rugs.

4. Use assistive devices.

A cane or walker can help you feel more stable when you are out and about. At your house, there are a number of assistive devices you can install, such as handrails on both sides of any staircase, grab bars for your shower or tub, a raised toilet seat, and glow-in-the-dark light switches.

5. Pick the right footwear.

Say goodbye to high heels or shoes with slippery soles. Wear fitted, sturdy shoes with nonskid soles. Wearing ill-fitting slippers or only socks around the house can also raise your fall risk. And if you are truly concerned about falling, look into purchasing an ankle-foot orthosis, which is intended to control the position and motion of the ankle and compensate for weakness.

This article originally appeared in the Fall edition of HealthLINK Magazine.