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Wellness Matters: Make Your Home a Fall-Free Zone

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The following weekly column is written and sponsored by Virginia Hospital Center, a proud member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network and one of America’s 100 Top Hospitals for the third year in a row.

As the weather cools down and you cozy up inside your home, take a look around and make some quick safety improvements. Did you know that falls affect more people over the age of 65 than heart attacks and strokes combined? One in three older adults falls each year, resulting in serious — and sometimes fatal — injuries. Many of these falls occur in the home.

Cathy Turner, Director of Health Promotion and Senior Health, shares some simple and inexpensive things you can do to make your house safer and reduce fall risk:

  • Remove small throw rugs with fringed or curled edges; they are a tripping hazard. Replace them with mats that lay flat and grip the floor.
  • Ensure that main walking areas are free of obstacles.
  • Make sure all areas of your home are well lit. Install night lights in each bathroom and put a light in each bedroom that you can turn on and off without getting out of bed.
  • Install grab bars next to your tub, shower and toilet.

Exercise is the number one fall-prevention intervention seniors can take for their health. Recent findings show exercise can reduce fall risk by almost 50%. For best results, combine exercises that increase strength, improve gait, develop balance and build endurance.

Other things you can do to prevent falls include:

  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review all your medications (or the medications of a family member) to see if any of them cause sleepiness or dizziness. If so, discuss the situation with your doctor.
  • Be sure to have an eye exam every year. Poor vision can increase the risk of falling.
  • Wear shoes inside and outside the house. Avoid going barefoot or wearing slippers.
  • When getting up from a bed or chair, do so slowly to prevent dizziness.

Learn more strategies to reduce fall risk at Virginia Hospital Center’s Fall Prevention lecture. The event will be held on Friday, December 4, from 11 a.m. to noon at the Carlin Springs Campus, 601 S Carlin Springs Road in Arlington. Admission is free and so is the parking. To RSVP, call 703-558-6859.

For more classes and events, click here.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

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