The last time you went to the doctor, they probably asked if you’d fallen lately. Sure, you slipped in the tub last month or missed a step while bringing in the groceries just the other day. But it was no big deal, right?
Don’t Ignore That Fall!
One in four people age 65 and over fall each year, according to the National Council on Aging (NCOA). Your physician is interested in your latest slip, trip or tumble because the older you get, the greater your risk of serious injury as a result. In fact, the NCOA reports that falls are the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.
And as if that’s not shocking enough, a 2010 study published in the The Journal of Trauma: Injury, Infection, and Critical Care found that people 70 and older are three times as likely to die after a fall than their 69-year-old or younger peers. That’s because if you fall, it could take you a long time to recover. And a long convalescence – and the frailty that comes with it – can put you at greater risk for other health issues, which could be life-threatening.
Here are steps to take to keep you on your feet:
- Make sure your home is well-lit.
- Keep your path free of items that could trip you up, like loose rugs, cords and pet’s toys.
- Always wear nonskid shoes; avoid shoes like slippers and flip-flops that could cause you to stumble.
- Keep your eyeglass prescription up-to-date, so you can see where you’re going.
- Use grab bars in the bathroom and handrails on stairs.
- Work on your balance through exercise (yoga is particularly beneficial).
- If you ever feel dizzy or lightheaded, talk to your doctor about your medications as they could be the culprit.
- Try to stay off step stools and ladders but be sure someone is close at hand if you do any climbing.
- If you’re unsteady on your feet, keep a cane or walker handy as a mobility aid.
- But the all-time best way to avoid falls is by staying active. While you may be reducing your chances of falling by planting yourself on the couch, inactivity can also have the opposite effect. It can cause you to become weak and unstable, which increases your fall risk when you do move around.
BE PROACTIVE: Even if you’ve never fallen before, be prepared by having a medical alert device, Apple watch or other means of getting help, particularly if you live alone.