8 Fall Prevention Tips for People Over 65
Last week one of my favorite patients fell at the grocery store. Not only was she mortified by the experience, but she also suffered an excruciating ankle injury, which is why she came to see me. This dear lady is over 65 (although she doesn’t look a day over 50 to me!) and has had foot and ankle problems for the last two years. It made me think about what she could do to prevent another fall and further painful injury.
Did you know that 30 percent of people age 65 or older fall at least once a year, and as people get older the odds of falling increase? At least 50 percent of people over 80 fall at least once a year.
With this in mind, it’s important to consider a variety of factors when it comes to fall prevention for people over 65. Foot health, visual ability, medication, type of flooring at home, and footwear are all factors that can exacerbate the risk of falls. Getting tested by a foot and ankle specialist can offer clarity about the risk of falling, as well as provide strategies for prevention. If you are prone to falling, consider booking an appointment at Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle so our team of compassionate foot doctors can evaluate potential problems.
However, one thing you can do straight away? Wear the proper footwear for fall prevention. There are a few types to stay away from. Walking around in socks, stockings, or barefoot should be avoided. And while they may look stylish, shoes with high heels or slick soles aren’t the best addition to your wardrobe. Furthermore, slippers are comfortable and an easy alternative to bare feet, but some designs are dangerous. So, what’s the best shoe for the job? Below, we’ve included our top tips for selecting shoes that will maximize fall prevention:
- Shoes should close securely and never be left unfastened or untied. Velcro is often the easiest to adjust but laced shoes can also offer a secure, comfortable fit.
- The higher off the ground you are, the more risk for a fall, so shoes should have a low and wide heel. This will offer more contact with the ground and keep you steady and sure-footed.
- The sole of the shoe should have tread that offers just enough traction. A smooth sole can lead to slips but too much grip can cause you to trip.
- Heavy material doesn’t necessarily mean sturdy. Lightweight shoes are easier to get around in but make sure they aren’t flimsy or too flexible in the arch.
- Heels aren’t the only part of a shoe that can cause the wearer to be too high off the ground. Insoles should never be padded over half an inch.
- Avoid footwear with an open back design. This can cause instability when walking as the foot might slide too far back.
- Make sure shoes are sized correctly, and seek out a professional fitting if necessary. If shoes are too big for you they can be extremely difficult to walk in. If shoes are too small they can lead to a host of unnecessary foot conditions, like corns and calluses, which cause pain to the feet when walking.
- Retire footwear once the soles have grown worn or too flexible.