We all want to feel safe in our home. Planning ahead can help us stay safe and feel more secure.

Each year, one in every four adults, ages 65 or older, falls. Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes an older adult dies from a fall. Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-treated hospital admissions among older adults.

The risk of falling increases with each decade of life. The injuries from falls, such as hip fractures and brain injuries, can affect the health and independence of older adults. Thankfully, falls are not a certain part of aging. In fact, many falls can be prevented. Everyone can take actions to protect themselves and the older adults they care about.

Prevention tips

Everyone can play a role in preventing falls. Encourage the older adults you care about to:

*Get some exercise. Lack of exercise can lead to weak legs and this increases the chances of falling. Exercise programs like Tai Chi can increase strength and improve balance, making falls much less likely.

*Be mindful of medications. Some medicines—or combinations of medicines—can have side effects like dizziness or drowsiness. This can make falling more likely. Have a doctor or pharmacist review all medications to help reduce the chance of risky side effects and drug interactions.

*Keep vision sharp. Poor vision can make it harder to get around safely. To keep seeing clearly, older adults should have their eyes checked every year and wear glasses or contact lenses with the right prescription strength.

*Eliminate risks at home. About half of all falls happen at home. A home safety check can help find possible places that could cause a fall. Look for things, like clutter and poor lighting, which could be a tripping hazard.

Steps for some safety

The following checklist can help older adults reduce their risk of falling at home:

*Remove things you can trip over (like papers, books, clothes, and shoes) from stairs and places where you walk.

*Install handrails and lights on all staircases.

*Remove small throw rugs or use double-sided tape to keep the rugs from slipping.

*Keep items you use often in cabinets you can reach easily without using a step stool.

*Put grab bars inside and next to the tub or shower, and next to your toilet.

*Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors.

*Improve the lighting in your home. As people get older, they need brighter lights to see well. Hang light-weight curtains or shades to reduce glare.

*Wear shoes both inside and outside the house. Avoid going barefoot or wearing slippers.

Contact Four Corners Health Department for more resources to help you live a healthier life. Request a free presentation for your business, church, club, or school. Call 402-362-2621 or toll free at 877-337-3573. Send email to info@fourcorners.ne.gov. Take steps to prevent a fall!

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