Prevent falls: You don’t want to be the one in four

Our area farm stands and farmers’ markets seem to burst with abundance in October.  The pyramids of pumpkins, apples, and squash remind us that it’s harvest season. And each autumn the leaves inevitably fall from the trees. It’s a reminder to me that this season once again is an opportunity to highlight fall prevention strategies for older adults.

The National Institute on Aging offers common sense ideas which apply to people of all ages — except, I might add, for toddlers, who seem to tip over, giggle, get up and do it all again!

The statistics for those of us who are six or more decades older than toddlers are more serious: one in four adults age 65 and older will have a fall during the year. And falls can result in injury; every 11 seconds an older adult is seen in a hospital emergency department for fall-related reasons.

And yet, falls are not an inevitable occurrence in aging. So what can we do? Here are six tips that may prevent you or a loved one from falling.

— Have your eyes and hearing tested often. Always wear your glasses when you need them. If you have a hearing aid, be sure it fits well and remember that it does not help if you do not wear it;

— Find out about the side effects of any medicine you take. If a drug makes you sleepy or dizzy, tell your doctor or pharmacist;

— Try to get enough sleep. When you are sleepy, you are more likely to fall. And, if you get up during the night, use nightlights along the path to the bathroom;

— Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Even a small amount can affect both balance and reflexes;

— You might not have thought about this tip. Stand up slowly after eating, lying down, or sitting. Getting up too quickly can cause your blood pressure to drop, which can make you feel faint and lead to a fall;

— Wear rubber-soled, low-heeled shoes that fully support your feet. Wearing only socks, slides or slippers with smooth soles on the stairs or floors without carpet present a hazard; and

In our office, we also have a Home Fall Prevention Checklist for Older Adults, “Check for Safety.”  Please call (518) 456-2898 for more information on how to receive a copy.

Community Caregivers, Inc. is a not for profit organization that provides non-medical services including transportation and caregiver support at no charge to residents of Guilderland, Bethlehem, Altamont, New  Scotland, Berne, Knox and the City of Albany through a strong volunteer pool of dedicated individuals with a desire to assist their neighbors.

Our funding is derived in part from the Albany County Department for Aging, the New York State Office for the Aging and the U.S. Administration on Aging. To find out more about our services, as well as volunteer opportunities, please visit or call us at (518) 456-2898.

Editor’s note: Linda Miller is the Outreach and Education coordinator for Community Caregivers.