Every year, thousands of older adults suffer a fall, often resulting in debilitating injury and frustrating loss of independence. There are many circumstances that might cause someone to fall, from balance problems to medication-induced dizziness. Fortunately, many falls are preventable. Here are some tips to keep you on your feet, and out of harm’s way.

Home, Safe Home

  • Get rid of potential trip hazards, like unanchored rugs, stray electrical cords and floor clutter
  • Help hard floors keep their traction by cleaning up spills immediately and using nonskid floor wax
  • Nightlights and illuminated light switches, especially in hallways and bathrooms, can help keep you from going bump in the night
  • If you have stairs, make sure they are well-lit with sturdy handrails

Talk to Your Doctor

  • Don’t skip your annual physical — it’s the prime time for your physician to catch vitamin deficiencies and bone density issues, as well as problems with vision, hearing and balance that could put you at increased risk for a fall
  • Many medications cause dizziness or drowsiness that can throw you off balance. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask your doctor about potential side effects when starting a new drug
  • Your health care provider can also recommend an appropriate exercise regimen to help you stay strong and limber

Steady Does It

  • Take your time getting to your feet when rising from a seated position
  • Choose supportive, low-heeled footwear with nonskid soles for a more confident stride
  • If you have a health condition or injury that affects your strength or balance, try using a rubber-tipped cane or walker for added stability

If you live alone, consider carrying a cell phone, or investing in a wearable emergency alert device. Gadgets like these can help aging adults enjoy independence while preserving their peace of mind.