Watch your step! Falls can lead to serious injuries, such as hip and wrist fractures, that can rob you of your independence – and even your life. In fact, falls are the main cause of serious injury and death among older people.
As we age, normal changes such as worsening eyesight and hearing, weakened muscles, and tendencies to lose balance, make us more prone to falling. Be sure to get regular checkups from your doctor to test your eyes and ears. A bone density test can be recommended to measure your risk of developing osteoporosis.
Some medications, including those for depression, high blood pressure, and sleep problems, can affect your muscles or balance and make you unsteady on your feet, causing falls. See your doctor right away if you feel dizzy, weak, unsteady, or confused – it might be due to a medication you're taking, an illness, or a physical condition.
If your doctor recommends that you use a cane or a walker, don't ignore that advice! It can make the difference between being mobile and having to recover from a fracture. When getting up after you've been lying down, always sit for a couple of minutes before standing up – you'll be less likely to feel dizzy. Also, try to get enough exercise, calcium, and vitamin D to keep your bones strong and prevent fractures.
Take these steps to make your home safer and prevent slips, trips, and falls:
- Wear shoes or slippers with non-slip soles.
- Keep your home well-lit and use night-lights to avoid tripping over things.
- Wear glasses regularly if you have them.
- Get rid of throw rugs or fasten them to the floor.
- Don't put electrical cords across pathways.
- Install grab bars by the bathtub and toilet.
- Put in handrails on both sides of stairways.
- Don't climb on stools or stepladders – let someone else do the reaching for you.
- Don't use slippery waxes on floors.
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