Slips and Falls
Prevent Slips, Trips, and Falls:
It’s Not the Age, It’s the Mileage
Your risk of falling may seem minor, after all we’ve all fallen at some point in our lives. As an eight-year-old, you might have scraped your knee, brushed off a few tears, and kept on moving. As you age, the outcome of a fall has long-term consequences such as hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries.
Each year, one in every three adults ages 65 or older falls and 2 million are treated in emergency departments for fall-related injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
• One out of five falls causes serious injury
• More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling
• Each year at least 2500,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures
• Direct medical costs for fall injuries are $34 billion annually
• Falling once doubles your chance of falling again
Prevention Is the Best Medicine
However, falls are not an inevitable part of aging and many can be prevented. Some of the underlying causes of older-adult falls include muscle weakness, improper footwear, impaired vision, slick floors, poor lighting, loose rugs, clutter, and uneven surfaces. All of which can be improved. And if you are an active senior, kudos, you are already ahead of the game.
Exercise: The role exercise plays in preventing falls makes it an important part of living an active lifestyle in your senior years. Lack of exercise can lead to weakness in the lower body and thus increase your chances of falling. Exercises like Tai Chi improve balance and strength. In fact, a trial conducted by PubMed.gov showed that inactive older adults who did Tai Chi three times a week decreased the risk of falls by 55 percent. In addition, weight-bearing exercises that strengthen your bones can also prevent fractures if you do fall.
Medications: Review your medicines, some have side effects such as dizziness or drowsiness, affect your coordination, or cause you to become confused and disoriented either taken by themselves or in combination with others medicines. This includes over the counter medications as well. These factors could make falling more likely.
Home Safety: While falls can happen anywhere, they most often occur at home. Keep your home safe by removing items you can trip over such as books, clothes, and shoes from stairs, hallways, and other passageways. Repair broken or uneven steps and install proper lighting. Put grab bars inside and next to the tub and use non-slip mats in the bathroom and on shower floors. These are just a few of the safety measures you can take to avoid a trip or fall at home. In addition, unless you think the house is on fire, don’t rush or run and don’t dash to open the front door. If it’s important, it will wait.
Most falls are caused by a combination of risk factors, many mentioned above. The more risk factors you have, the greater your chances of falling. Protect yourself by keeping your space clear of obstacles, your mind aware of your surroundings, and your body strong and balanced.