Last month the U.S. Centers for Disease Control released a report that found that “falls are the number one cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among adults over 65” (Brophy). When an older adult falls he or she is more likely to break a bone. Unfortunately, many older adults suffer from osteoporosis, but they aren’t aware that they have the disease. Osteoporosis causes the bones to become weak, and this is why bones of older adults are more likely to break during a fall. If you are over the age of 65, it’s imperative that you take preventative measures to lower your risk of falling—regardless if you have osteoporosis or not. Keep reading to learn some fall prevention tips.
Common Reasons for Falls
There are many different reasons that people fall. Some of the most common reasons include loss of balance, poor vision, or inebriation. Certain medications may also increase your risk of falling if the side effects make you feel dizzy or confused. Improper footwear or untreated foot pain can also increase your chance of falling. Your surroundings, such as an uneven walkway or a throw rug, can also increase the chances that you suffer a fall.
Ways to Prevent Falls
- Take a look around your house. Make sure that the floors are free of clutter. Remove any cords that could trip you. Get rid of your throw rugs and high heel shoes. Repair any outside steps or pathways that are broken.
- If you have hardwood floors you should always wear footwear indoors. You increase your chance of falling if you wear socks or slippers.
- Make sure your stairs are well lit. Don’t attempt to navigate the hallway in the dark when you go in search of that midnight snack.
- Add a bath mat that won’t slide. You should also install bars on the bathroom walls so that you have something to hold on to when you enter and exit the tub. Make sure that you also have a bath mat on the floor outside of the tub so that the floor isn’t slippery when you step out.
- Exercise daily to increase and strengthen your balance. Standing on one leg for a period of time is one simple exercise that you can do each day.
If You Do Fall
While it’s difficult to react in the moment, if you do fall try to avoid landing on your side. Breaking your hip bone is very painful since the bone is so large, and the recovery process can be very difficult. When you fall try your best to land on your buttocks or fall forwards. Some people choose to wear special hip pads to protect the bone if they fall. Recovering from a fall is often a long process. Depending on the type of fall, you might need surgery. It’s not a bad idea to be evaluated by a physiatrist and/or a physical therapist. Both health care professionals will be able to provide you with treatment that helps you recover more quickly.
Protect Your Bones and Vision
It’s important to talk to your doctor about keeping your bones strong. Some doctors recommend that their patients take medicine in order to increase the strength of their bones. Exercise is one of the simplest ways that you can protect your bones. It’s also important that you have your vision examined at least once a year. Make sure that you regularly update your glasses so that your vision remains strong and blurry-free.