Nationwide, falls are the leading cause of emergency room visits and account for more than 8 million hospital emergency room visits each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Falling is also a major cause of serious injury among senior citizens and can result in hip fractures and broken bones. But there are steps you can take to prevent them.

Keep your home safe

It is important to make sure you make your home as fall-proof as possible and if you have an elderly friend or neighbor nearby you can share this information with them.

Pick up clutter from the floor. Even in our best moments we can easily trip over something we didn’t notice at our feet. Don’t leave newspaper, towels, magazines and other items where you or someone else might trip over them. Also, in your living room make sure cords for lamps, TVs and other accessories are tucked away as best as possible to avoid a hazard. This will also make things look neater.

Adequate lighting is important. While we might think dimming the lights might create the perfect ambiance, for someone with poor eyesight it could spell trouble. Older people can have difficulty seeing, so make sure there is enough light. You might have to add a lamp or two or increase the wattage of your bulbs.

If you have stairs in your home, they need to have secure handrails. If the stairs are narrow, have an expert install handrails that are connected to the walls on either side. Make sure they can bear the weight of somebody who needs them. Stairs should also include non-slippery surfaces and should be well-lighted.

All showers and tubs should include safety bars for someone to be able to grab for support. A bar or bars should be located near the commode.

It’s also important to keep watch over older members of your household or seniors who live alone. They might not recognize fall risks based on their own physical condition.

Be aware of your own health

Here are some symptoms you can watch for that might contribute to a fall:

♦ Inactivity

♦ Lack of mobility

♦ Poor vision

♦ Inflexibility

♦ Difficulty getting in and out of a chair

How to protect yourself

If you are older, there are also steps you can take to protect yourself:

Talk with your doctor. Let him or her know if you have fallen recently or if you sometimes feel unsteady on your feet.

It is possible that some medicines you are taking might make you feel dizzy or drowsy. That could make you more susceptible to falling. Ask your doctor to take a look at the medicines you take. Don’t stop taking any medication without consulting a physician.

Check your shoes. It’s important that you are wearing the correct footwear that isn’t prone to slipping or sliding. The right kind of shoes can make you more stable on your feet.

Make sure you get your eyes checked at least once a year and make sure if you wear glasses that they are updated as needed. Keep in mind that glasses that change tint when you go from sunlight into shade can make seeing things inside difficult. Bifocals can also make it hard to see on stairs.

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