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Tips for good balance

How to stay healthy and prevent falls


Falls are the leading cause of injury in older adults, with 25% of seniors age 65+ experiencing at least one every year. Even if a fall doesn’t result in an injury, it can cause fear and anxiety. Fortunately, with proper precautions, most falls are preventable. With Falls Prevention Day on September 22nd, we asked occupational therapist and president of Friendly Shoes® Joseph DiFrancisco for tips to stay safe and healthy.

Wear properly fitting shoes. Find a pair of non-slip shoes you can wear both inside and out. Research shows that most falls happen inside the home and are often attributed to inappropriate footwear, so make sure you’re wearing ones that fit well.

Don’t stand up too fast. Everyone gets dizzy or lightheaded every so often. While it’s usually not anything serious, always err on the side of caution and alert your doctor right away. Then make sure to sit down until you can consult with them and can figure out the root of the cause, whether blood pressure, inner ear problems or just getting up too fast.

Keep hydrated. Dehydration can lead to falls. Older people are more vulnerable to dehydration which can cause electrolyte imbalance. Water and electrolytes are essential to your health, so make sure you drink up and get your ounces in each day.

Make clear paths. Remove or move anything that might cause a trip or a slip, such as area rugs, baskets/bins, extension cords, or poorly placed furniture. If you can, create designated walking paths both inside and outside the home.

Replace your lighting. Swap incandescent bulbs with LED options, which are brighter and reduce glare. Use the same bulbs throughout the home, so your eyes don’t have to adapt to different lighting levels from one room to another.

Use your walker or cane. Make sure your cane or walker is fitted properly whether by your doctor or physical therapist. Be sure to familiarize yourself with it before venturing out.

Stay active. Balance can decline really quickly, especially for individuals 65-plus. So, stay active. Anything you can do on your feet, whether weight shifting, stepping forward, backsteps, or sidesteps, is extremely helpful.

Get regular check-ups. Make sure you monitor your medications and see your physician regularly even if you don’t feel off. Together, you’ll be able to spot any vision or balance problems early and take action before they worsen.

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