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Senior Fall Prevention Tips

Fall can be the time of leaves changing, the seasons transitioning and a lot of natural beauty abounding all around. For seniors, however, fall presents all this and the increased risk of falling. This could be due to changing weather conditions, rain-soaked leaves cluttering the driveway, lower light, and colder weather stiffening your joints and bones. But falling during the autumn season doesn’t have to be inevitable.

Typically, it’s never the big things that trip you up in the fall; it’s all about paying attention to the little details and spotting hazards in seemingly innocuous places.

So how do you prevent a fall in the fall?

We’ve got seven tips for senior fall prevention and to prevent slips, trips and falls at home. These ideas are a combination of things you can do for your body and yourself as well as things to take care of and consider around the house.

1) Clean up your yard

Leaves, leaves, leaves and more leaves! As those beautiful tendrils of a tree change color and drift to the ground, they set the scene for a stunning fall evening walk.

But they can also present a major hazard. When enough leaves accumulate on the road through the fall months, they can begin to stack on top of each other and can become frozen and slippery. This is especially true when there’s a combination of additional rain and colder, frosty mornings.

Accumulated leaves in the yard and on the driveway can present a significant hazard, and it’s not uncommon to see a person falling on his or her own driveway and in one’s yard. Seniors need to think about the damage a fall could present for them as long-term.

No one wants to face the music of limited mobility, especially since it might take a senior even longer to heal; in some cases, they risk never fully getting back to their original strength.

2) Wear fitted jackets and layers

In the fall, we’re met with an interesting combination of temperatures. The mornings are quite cold, but the afternoons are warmed by a bright sun and a cool breeze.

As the days get shorter and move into winter, the weather changes; and we’re not sure what to do. So light layers it is. However, while wearing oversized jackets, sweaters and loose pants may be comfortable, they can also cause a fall. Loose clothing is prone to geting caught on everything from door handles and grips to branches and table edges.

While it’s a smart idea to dress in light layers during the transitional fall months, make sure that your clothing is fitted and hugs your body. You’ll need less clothing overall, and you’re less prone to falling or tripping.

3) Boost your immune system

Fall is also harvest season — it’s when many fruits and fresh vegetables are gathered and sold at farmers’ markets and in grocery stores.

Now is the time to take advantage of this bounty by making sure you’re eating fresh produce, whole foods and taking immune-boosting supplements. This will help you stay alert and in better health. As the months get colder and move into winter, more people with low-level immune systems contract viruses.

While not life-threatening, a simple virus can lower your body’s defenses; a fever can make you feel groggy, stuffy and lethargic, and the overall feeling of sickness could leave you more vulnerable to falling in your own home.

4) Undertake “dual task” training

Speaking of boosting the immune system, so you stay strong during the fall and winter, another component to preventing senior falls in the home is to boost “cognitive function.”

Sometimes, fall prevention can be about simply seeing that there are objects in your environment that can present a hazard. It can be as simple as focusing on the task in front of you or processing the right amount of information, cognitively speaking, to know what you need to do next.

Especially in seniors, as you age, maintaining body function is just as important as maintaining brain function. You can do this by undertaking something called “dual task” training. A form of cognitive therapy, dual task training involves periods of time where you deliberately perform two tasks at once. Not a tall order if you already love walking – or doing a crossword puzzle – and you love talking to your friend. Why not step out for a walk and bring a friend along?

5) Do some “fall” cleaning around the house

There’s spring cleaning, where you move out the old things and make way for the summer. So why not do the same in the fall?

  • Clear the house of any summer objects (like lawn chairs).
  • Seal up the barbecue and move summer utensils and appliances to another space in the house.
  • Clear the house of any clutter that you don’t need in the coming winter months.
  • Move items from the stairs and landing.
  • Take the time for fall cleaning and removing any extraneous items that could cause trips.

Over 67% of accidents related to falling for seniors occur in the home. This is a simple but effective way to prevent slips, trips and falls at home.

6) Schedule a “pre-winter” heating check

Whether you have central heating or baseboards, do a proper heating check of your house. You’ll also want to get someone to clean your ducts and check your chimney and fireplace if your home is wood-burning.

Why does heating matter? You’ll be spending most of your time indoors during the winter, and you want to make sure it’s as comfortable as possible. The last thing you want is to have to go and fiddle with a knob or a switch on the outside of your home because of poor heating.

Remember, this is all about mitigating and preventing those worst-case scenarios from even starting.

7) Install motion-sensing lights

And last, but certainly not the least, the fall months are when the days get shorter and the nights come faster. As darkness descends much more quickly and is much more pervasive, consider installing motion-detecting lights for the exterior (and even the interior) of your home.

Getting up in the middle of the night to fumble around in the dark is no fun and can also increase the chance that a household item will get in your way.

If you have vision or sight issues, this risk is increased significantly. With motion-sensing lights outdoors, you can easily see where those tricky spots on your driveway are in the cold, dark mornings when you’re trying to start the car.

For more tips on how to improve your life and plan for the oncoming seasons as a senior, visit our blog.