As we age, falls become more risky and more common. A simple fall can cause a broken bone, a hospital visit, a long-term injury, or even a permanent disability. More than one in three people aged 65 or older fall each year.
WHAT CAN CAUSE A FALL?
Many things can cause a fall. Our eyesight, hearing and reflexes may have become less sharp as we have aged. Diabetes, heart disease or thyroid deficiency can affect balance. Certain medications can cause dizziness or sleepiness, as can blood pressure that drops as we get up from sitting or lying down. Equally important among the causes are hazards in the home and community, such as unsafe footwear, overcrowded household furniture, unanchored rugs, and insufficient lighting.
TIPS TO PREVENT FALLS
1. Discuss health concerns with your doctor, such as medications you are taking, eye or ear disorders, dizziness, joint pain, blood pressure irregularity, muscle weakness, etc. Your doctor can evaluate such conditions, and help you to develop fall-prevention strategies.
2. Keep moving. Physical activity can help with fall prevention. Gentle exercises such as walking, water workouts or yoga can improve muscle strength, balance and flexibility.
3. Wear sturdy, comfortable shoes. Change your footwear to more sensible shoes as part of your fall-prevention plan. High heels, floppy slippers, and slick-soled shoes can cause you to slip and fall.
4. Remove home hazards. Move newspapers, electrical cords and boxes from walkways. Move furniture from high-traffic areas. Secure or remove loose rugs. Store clothing, dishes and food within easy reach. Clean up spilled liquids immediately. Use nonstop mats in your bathtub or shower.
5. Light up your living space. Place night lights in your bedroom or bathroom. Turn on lights before going up or down stairs.
6. Use assistive devices, such as a cane or walker, if necessary; hand rails on sides of stairways; grab bars for shower or tub; sturdy plastic seat for shower or tub; hand-held shower nozzle for bathing while sitting down; a mobile or portable phone or an emergency response system for calling for help in an emergency.
KEEPING YOUR BONES STRONG TO PREVENT INJURIES
Help prevent fractures by keeping your bones strong. Having healthy bones will not prevent a fall, but in case you do fall, it might prevent breaking a hip or other bone, and keep you out of a hospital or nursing home. Here are a few ways to keep your bones strong:
Get enough calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K-2 and boron
Get at least 150 minutes per week of physical activity
Limit alcohol use
Maintain a healthy weight
ON THE WEB
Learn more about falls and fall prevention:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Resource Center on Supportive Housing and Home Modifications
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