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How to Prevent Falls and Injuries in Seniors

March 30, 2023

More than 800,000 seniors – recently including Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell – are hospitalized from falls and related injuries each year.

Even more alarmingly, deaths from falls are on the rise. Deaths rose 30% from 2007 to 2016 and it’s estimated that there will be seven deaths from falls every hour by 2030.

So what can be done to prevent falls and serious injuries?

Mitchell Nyser, an exercise physiologist with Hartford HealthCare GoodLife Fitness, shares tips for fall prevention and how anyone can learn to fall safely.

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Six factors that can cause falls

There are a number of factors that cause falls, according to Nyser, including:

  • How we walk
  • Arthritis
  • Vertigo
  • Medication
  • Lack of exercise
  • Environmental factors such as footwear and improper usage of walking aides

Fall prevention starts at home.

“It’s important to note that most falls can be prevented. Although falls can happen to anybody, at any time and place, seniors can prevent falls by recognizing common factors in their home,” Nyser says.

Make your home fall-proof with these tips:

  • Secure rugs by putting a slip-resistant mat underneath it
  • Keep space clean and clear of spilled food
  • Sleep in a bed that isn’t too high or too low
  • Install grip bars and handrails where needed
  • Remove clutter and keep stairways clear
  • Only carry what you can hold, and keep one hand free

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How to fall safely

Sometimes, falls happen no matter how much you try to avoid them. They can strip seniors of their independence and, like McConnell, lead to hospitalization and long-term rehab care.

“One out of every five falls causes an injury, such as broken bones or a head injury,” Nyser says.

To help seniors protect themselves, GoodLife Fitness teaches safe falling techniques, as well as ways to build energy, strength and endurance.

In order to fall safely, Nyser recommends:

  • Staying loose and don’t panic
  • Try to turn as you fall
  • Keep your arms and legs bent
  • Protect your head
  • Roll and spread out to lighten the impact on one area
  • Call for help

Through GoodLife Fitness, exercise physiologists design an individualized exercise program each person to improve muscular strength, balance, cardiovascular health and self-esteem, while reducing the risk of falls and injuries.