Preventing Falls As You Age
Anyone can fall. Although we can’t prevent falls entirely, we can help you identify some common causes for falls, how to decrease your risk for them, and how to prevent serious injury if you do fall.
Falls are very common. About one in four people over age 65 experience a fall, although most don’t mention it to their doctor. Unfortunately, falls can result in serious injury. Each year, more than 3 million seniors are treated in the emergency room for fall-related injuries, and more than 300,000 people are hospitalized for hip fracture.
Because the prevalence of conditions that raise fall risk increases with age, it’s important for you and your doctor to assess what your risk may be. Conditions for you and your doctor to be on the look-out for include lower body weakness, worsening balance, vision problems, and foot pain. Medications that cause drowsiness or dizziness are another important consideration when evaluating fall risk. Finally, environmental factors add additional dangers. Hazards in your home may include broken or uneven stairs or floorboards, loose throw rugs, and clutter. Understanding your risk due to physical, medical, and environmental conditions is the first step toward staying safe.
The good news is that many conditions that contribute to falls can be addressed and improved upon. Ask your doctor to evaluate your risk for falls annually. Consider asking a pharmacist to review your medications to see if any might cause dizziness or drowsiness. Have regular eye exams for early identification of worsening vision. If lower body weakness or balance issues are identified, your doctor may recommend physical therapy for strength and balance training.
Community resources are also available to help improve fall risk. Ask your healthcare provider whether there are any fall prevention programs in your neighborhood that you can join. Your healthcare provider may also help you identify exercise programs in your community that specifically target strength and balance, like yoga or tai chi.
Finally, take a look around your home for any potential hazards or speak with your doctor about having a nurse come out to evaluate the safety of your home. Fortunately, many issues in and around the home can be easily identified and addressed:
- Wear shoes with proper support and non-slip soles.
- Remove objects you can trip over from stairs and places you walk.
- Avoid movable rugs that may slip and slide.
- Have grab bars installed by the toilets and outside the shower or bathtub..
- Place non-slip rubber mats on the floor of your shower.
- Keep often-used items in cabinets and shelves that are reachable without needing a stool or ladder.
For seniors living alone, the fear of a fall can limit your ability to live the life you want. Traveling to see a physician can also be challenging. Transportation obstacles, mobility limitations, constraints due to chronic illness, and fear of getting sick prevent many older people from going to their primary care clinic appointments. Welcome Health recognized these challenges and developed a primary care model to help you!
Grounded in the art and science of geriatric medicine, Welcome Health delivers holistic, whole-person care that balances the treatment of disease with quality of life, physical function, and what matters most to each person. Welcome health prioritizes our patient’s convenience, concerns, and personal goals. Contact us today and start getting the care you deserve.
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