Little kids fall all the time, and it’s rarely serious. The older we get, however, the more a fall is likely to have major consequences. For adults, a fall can easily result in a broken bone. For older people, that fracture could be the beginning of serious issues like hospital stays or disability. How can you reduce your risk of falling?
Don’t let a fear of falling keep you from living your life. Staying active can keep you in good physical condition, whether you’re gardening, walking, or getting together with friends. When you’re in good shape, you’re less likely to fall.
One reason older people are more likely to fall than younger people is that the body doesn’t work the way it once did. Eyesight, hearing, muscle strength and reflexes can decline, and conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and thyroid problems can affect your balance. Cognitive impairment from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can contribute to the risk of falling, as can Parkinson’s disease. Some medicines increase your risk of falling, especially if they make you feel dizzy or confused. If you have osteoporosis, falling can easily cause you to break a bone.
Take these steps to make falls less likely.
- Stay active. Exercise can improve your muscles and keep you strong and flexible. If you incorporate mild weight-bearing activities into your exercise routine, you can even slow the progression of osteoporosis.
- Have regular vision and hearing checks. Remember that even small shifts in your sight or hearing can cause you to fall. If you have new glasses, take some time to get used to them before you venture too far afield. Always wearing your glasses and/or hearing aid if that’s what your doctor recommends.
- Be careful about medication. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist, especially if it will make you feel tired or dizzy.
- Practice healthy habits. Get plenty of rest and limit the amount of alcohol you consume. When you’re too tired you’re more likely to fall. Further, even a small amount of alcohol can make you unsteady on your feet. What’s more, the rate of hip fractures increases with alcohol consumption.
- Set yourself up for success. Move slowly, using a cane or walker, if necessary, to help you feel steady. Wear non-slip shoes and have sand or salt or sand spread on icy surfaces near your home to reduce your risk of slipping. To avoid tripping, be very cautious in unfamiliar places.
If you do fall, stay calm and still, taking several deep breaths before trying to get up. Assess your level of injury to make sure it’s safe to get up and then do so slowly, using a sturdy chair to assist you. If you’re injured, call 911 or get to Exceptional Healthcare. We can provide the care you need, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even on holidays, at 13 different locations across Texas. Visit our website to learn more or drop by to see our facilities for yourself.