What are the risk factors for falling?
Did you know that those with visual impairments are twice as likely to fall as those without visual impairments? As visual clarity becomes obscured, the likelihood of falling due to the inability to detect obstacles or changing terrain increases, making the chance of a fall greater.
The percentage of adults with vision impairments and age-related eye diseases is estimated to significantly increase in the coming years due to the rapidly-aging U.S. population. As the number of seniors increase, so does the number of individuals affected by vision loss and the risks associated with it, including falls.
Many factors can contribute to increased risk of falling. Many of these risks are in our own homes.
Below is a list of some of the most common risks:
- Floor coverings not properly fastened or installed (including bubbled carpet, rugs, uneven flooring, etc)
- A lack of handrails on steps or stairs
- Inadequate lighting, especially at night
- Pathways obscured by trip hazards (such as toys, furniture, etc)
- The presence of cords or wires in the way of mobility
- A lack of window treatments to prevent glare
- Slick flooring
- Footwear without proper gripping
- Pets or children that get under feet
- Mobility-restrictive clothing
How can you prevent falls?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following as basic measures to take to reduce the likelihood of a fall:
- Exercise regularly. Exercise can increase your strength while improving your balance and coordination.
- Prevent dizziness. Rise slowly after sitting or lying down.
- Wear proper footwear. Make sure footwear has proper gripping on the bottom and fits properly.
- Improve lighting. Depending on an individual’s visual impairment, brighter bulbs could improve visibility. Make sure that glare from windows is reduced through window treatments.
- Add contrast. Paint walls in your home a different color than floors and other walls to be able to see pathways clearly. Make sure stairs are clearly visible, and consider putting a contrasting color on the edge of steps to see stairs more clearly.
- Have an annual eye exam. Make sure eye wear is up-to-date and talk with your doctor about adjustments or changes in vision.
- Contact your doctor or pharmacist. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about reviewing the medications you take, including over-the-counter medications, as some may cause dizziness or drowsiness.