Falls are a common medical concern for older adults. In fact, each year, at least 25% of individuals over the age of 65 suffer a fall. Many factors could explain that increased risk: older adults may have sight deficits or compromised reflexes. Plus, your balance may suffer as you age, due to conditions such as diabetes and neuropathy, or even due to the side effects of certain medications.  Then, if you do fall, health, mobility and independence can suffer. Even getting around your own home, and doing something as simple as climbing the stairs or walking down the hall, can become a scary or difficult challenge. 

Now, since the risk of falling and sustaining an injury increases as you age, fall prevention for elderly individuals is more important than ever. So, what do you need to do to protect yourself or your loved ones from slips and falls? Here’s what you need to know. 

Fall Prevention in Elderly Adults: Why It’s So Important elderly couple walking with cane

Once an older adult stumbles, his or her risk for another fall actually doubles. Plus, even if you only suffer a minor injury when you fall, the fear of suffering another tumble can keep you from enjoying your favorite activities. Then, as we suggested earlier, you may start isolating yourself, limiting your days to rooms that feel safe and missing out on activities that you love. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead, you can work together with our podiatrists in Medford, OR to reduce the risk of falling for the seniors in your life. 

Reducing Risk Factors for Falling at Home 

One key way to reduce seniors’ risk for falling is to make sure they focus on maintaining and building strength and balance. Try to follow a regular exercise routine, choosing activities such as yoga, Tai Chi or even just walking that have a low impact but make a major difference in preventing falls. You can also focus on lifestyle factors, limiting your alcohol intake and prioritizing sleep to stay steady on your feet. Also, when you get up out of bed, or after sitting for a while, you should rise slowly. Otherwise, you could experience a drop in blood pressure that makes you feel dizzy and throws off your balance. 

And, even with these preventative measures, you should still come in for regular checkups at our Southern Oregon podiatry practice. That way, we can screen you for balance issues. And, if we detect any problems, we can take early action to stop falls before they happen. 

We may suggest changing your shoes, looking for supportive foot wear with lots of arch support. The bottoms of your shoes will also be important: Avoid flip-flops, shoes without backings, or even house slippers. Always wear shoes at home—and never walk around in slippery socks. Instead, you’ll want to stick to shoes styles that are closed and equipped with non-skid, rubber-soles. And you’ll want to keep shoes flat or with low heels. Finally, adding custom orthotics to your shoes could help counteract imbalances in your feet, reducing the risk of falling. 

In and around your home, you’ll need to set up your space to support fall prevention in the elderly. First, clear your home of tripping hazards like loose rugs, pet toys, and furniture that’s below your sight line. Also, make sure that the lights inside your home are bright enough to help you see unexpected hazards in your space. And equip any staircases with sturdy railings on both sides of the flight in order to keep you safe and supported. Then, you can work with your doctors and podiatrist to further address any falling hazards. 

Fall Prevention in the Elderly: How Your Medford Podiatrists Can Help

During your regular checkups at the office, we can screen you for loss of balance or strength, as well as for health conditions or medication side effects that can that increase your risk for falling. We also suggest having your regular doctor check your eye sight regularly, so you can quickly correct any signs of vision loss. Then, if you still have an elevated risk for falling, we can take additional fall prevention measures. 

For some patients, that will mean fitting you for a device known as an ankle foot orthotic, a medical device that can greatly reduce your risk for falling. Now, the name sounds a lot like the custom orthotics that we mentioned earlier, but an ankle foot orthotic (AFO) is an even stronger weapon in the fight against falling.  

How does this device work? Basically, it’s designed to support both the feet and the ankles. In this way, it provides you with added stability while simultaneously improving your balance. Available in standard or  custom made sizes, these options ensure that we can provide you with an AFO that fits you perfectly,  maximizing both your comfort and the device’s effectiveness at fall prevention. And, when you wear them regularly, your gait should also improve, making you steadier on your feet and reducing your chances of tripping or losing your balance.  

Of course, while we mostly recommend AFOs to those with a high risk for falling, anyone could benefit from the fall prevention support they can provide. So, even if you’re active and exercising regularly, if you’ve had a fall in the past, you may want to ask us about fall prevention in the elderly with ankle foot orthotics.  Then, when you schedule an appointment by clicking this link or calling the office at 541-776-3338, we can review further steps we can take to keep you or your loved one safe from falling. 


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