One simple movement could change your life in just seconds - like taking a step and accidentally tripping on a rug or slipping on the wet floor. Unfortunately, the risk of falling, or falling related problems, increases with age. If you fall, there is high potential to break a bone, like thousands of older men and women do each year. For older folks, a broken bone can be the start of more serious health problems. It is important to be aware of all of the different ways you can avoid falling and hurting yourself.
Take the Right Steps to Prevent Falls
By taking extra good care of your overall health, you may be able to lower your chances of falling and injuring yourself. Most of the time, falls and accidents don't "just happen". Below are a few tips to help avoid falling and potentially breaking a bone:
Stay Physically Active
Planning an exercise program that is right for you is key when preventing falls in your daily life. Regular exercise builds muscle and makes you stronger, in addition to keeping your joints, tendons and ligaments flexible. Mild weight baring activities, such as walking or climbing stairs, may slow bone loss from osteoporosis.
Have Your Eyes and Hearing Tested
Surprisingly enough, even small changes in your vision and hearing can cause you to fall. When you get new eye glass or contact prescription, make sure you take the time to get used to them. Always wear your glasses or contacts when needed, although it may be a hassle for you, it will help in the long run. If you have a hearing aid, make sure it works properly and you are wearing it.
Look Into Side Effects of Medication
It is important to keep track of the potential side effects that may come with your medications. If a drug makes you sleepy or dizzy, make sure to tell your doctor or pharmacist.
Another key to avoiding falling, and potentially breaking a bone, would be to make sure you are always well rested. If you are sleepy or fatigued, there is a much greater chance for you to fall and get hurt.
Limit the Amount of Alcohol
Even a small amount of alcohol can affect your balance and reflexes. Studies specifically show that the rate of hip fractures in older adults increases with alcohol use.
Stand Up Slowly
Believe it or not, standing up too quickly can really increase your chances of falling. Getting up too quickly causes your blood pressure to drop, which in turn can make you feel off balance and wobbly. It is important to consistently check your blood pressure, when both standing and laying down.
Use Assistive Devices for Support
The use of canes and walkers can most certainly prevent falls. If your doctor suggests using a cane or walker, make sure it is the appropriate size for you and that is moves smoothly across the floor. This is important when you're walking in unfamiliar areas, or areas where the walk way may be uneven. In addition, a physical or occupational therapist can help you decide which devices are best to support your mobility.
Wear Supportive Shoes
It is important to wear non-skid, rubber soled, low-heeled shoes, or lace up shoes with non-skid soles that fully support your feet. The thickness of the soles is crucial, they cant be too thin or too thick. Avoid walking or doing the stairs with socks on, or slippery soled shoes or slippers.
Always Share With Your Doctor
A fall can alert your doctor to a new medical problems or problems with your medications, eyesight or hearing that can be corrected. Always tell your doctor if you have fallen since your last check-up, even if you aren't hurt when you fall. Your doctor may suggest physical therapy, a walking aid, or other steps to help prevent future falls and potential fractures.
What To Do If You Fall?
Try to Stay Calm
To get over the shock of falling, take several deep breaths to try to relax. Remain still on the floor or ground for a few moments to collect yourself and get over the shock of falling.
Decide if You're Hurt
Decide if you're hurt before trying to get up off the floor. In many cases, getting up too quickly or in the wrong way could make a potential injury much worse.
Slowly Get Up - Only If You feel You Can
If you think you can get up safely without help, roll over onto your side. Rest again while letting your blood pressure adjust; slowly get up on your hands and knees and crawl to a sturdy chair.
Use the chair for leverage to get up by putting both hands on the chair of the seat, sliding one foot forward so that it is flat on the floor. Keep the other leg bent, with the knee on the floor. Slowly rise from this position and turn your body to sit in the chair.
Call For Help
If you are hurt or cannot get up on your own, ask someone for help or call 911. If you are alone, try your best to get into a comfortable position and wait for help to arrive. Carrying a mobile or portable phone with you as you move about your house can make it easier to call for assistance, if need be. Another option would be an emergency response system, which lets your push a button on a special necklace or bracelet to call for help.
For More Info about Falls and Fall Prevention Visit:
National Falls Prevention Resource Center 571-527-3900 www.ncoa.org/center-for-healthy-aging/falls-resource-center/