4 Tips to Prevent Falls
The reason we want to prevent falls is to prevent broken bones.
As we age, the bones of the skeleton lose their mineral density and the structure becomes thin and unable to take normal weight, leaving bones that break more easily. If we can prevent falls, we can prevent fractures.
According to the Centers for Disease Control:
- An older adult falls every second
- 25% of older adults fall each year
- Falls are the #1 cause of hip fractures.
Most falls are caused by the interaction of multiple risk factors like age, previous falls, fear of falling and chronic medical conditions that affect walking. Here are some factors that can lead to falls and how you can minimize them.
- Bad vision. If you have old prescription glasses or contacts, or perhaps cataracts or glaucoma, you may not be able to see potential trip hazards. Get your eyes checked.
- Muscle weakness. As we age, we can lose 1% of our muscle mass each year. Improving leg strength by doing modified squats can give you stability and a solid foundation.
- Poor balance. If you cannot stand on one leg for 11 seconds, you are at risk for a dangerous fall. Practice standing on one leg every day – start by holding on to something for stability, like a counter, and work up to 30 seconds.
- Trip Hazards. There are many threats lurking in and around the home waiting to trip you up. Loose cords, scatter rugs, clutter, small pets and their toys, uneven sidewalks, parking lot curbs – and the list goes on. Always keep a good eye out for hazards.
- Multiple medications. People who take 4 or more medicines are at increased risk of falling. Talk with your doctor about your medications to see how they might affect your balance.
Fall prevention begins with awareness and reducing risk. Start now and incorporate these tips into your life to stay on your feet.
- Stop multitasking. Pay attention to where you put your feet. This may mean that you don’t walk and window shop at the same time. Look ahead for those trip hazards and stop if you want to see something.
- Use a hand. Hand rails and grab bars are your friends. Make sure to get them installed in the bathrooms because that is where most falls happen.
- Turn on a light. Most falls happen at night on the way to the bathroom. If it’s dark, you may not see that trip hazard. Put in night lights, especially in hallways, stairwells and bathrooms.
- Get moving. Exercise is a purposeful, repetitious activity that goes beyond your usual activities and you must work on it! You can reduce your risk of falling if you have good leg strength and balance. Find a group class or activity you enjoy. If you have an appointment to exercise you are more likely to do it. If you can’t get out, there are many walking DVD’s or other exercise home programs to help you stay active. If you have problems, it may be helpful to begin with a visit to your doctor to discuss starting an exercise program.