As we age, time takes its toll on the bodily systems that keep us balanced, making us more prone to dangerous slips, trips and falls. And while a fall can be a life-changing or even life-threatening event for an older adult, reducing one’s risk is easy.
The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) recommends the following simple safety tips:
Do a Home Safety Check
At least one-third of all falls involve hazards within the home.
Be sure to remove throw rugs and low furniture, eliminate clutter, and secure carpeting and other tripping hazards like electrical cords. Your home should be properly lit, so that even at night your vision is not impaired. Install grab bars in your bathtub and handrails on your staircases.
Get Regular Exercise
Start a exercise program that includes activities that improve strength, balance, coordination and flexibility. Walking, water workouts and tai chi will not only contribute to your overall health, they can also reduce your risk of falls.
Consult a health care professional before getting started.
Manage Pain Differently
“The same pills meant to make older patients with chronic pain more comfortable may also make them more vulnerable to falls,” says ACA President Dr. Keith Overland, who runs a practice in Norwalk, Conn. “Chiropractic services, including spinal adjustments and manipulation, exercise recommendations, rehab and nutritional and lifestyle counseling, are a great non-drug alternative to medications that affect your brain’s function and lead to dizziness or light-headedness.”
Taking multiple medications magnifies the risk of injury. Seniors who are on three or more drugs, or who have muscle weakness, are more likely to fall. Another risk factor is combining prescription drugs with alcohol, over-the-counter allergy or sleeping medications, painkillers, or cough suppressants. Ask your prescribing physician to review your medications and reduce your chances of falling by using the lowest effective dosage. Also, discuss the need for walking aids or supports while taking medications that can affect balance.
Prevent Serious Injury
Osteoporosis makes bones less resistant to stress and more likely to fracture. Help limit the effects of osteoporosis by eating a diet rich in calcium and Vitamin D. Calcium-rich foods include milk, yogurt, fish, broccoli, collard greens, tofu and almonds. You can get your daily dose of Vitamin D with a little bit of sunlight.
If you do find yourself falling, fall forward on your hands or land on your buttocks — not on your spine. Also, protect your head from striking furniture or the floor.
Age-related vision diseases, including cataracts and glaucoma, and can alter your depth perception, visual acuity and susceptibility to glare. Schedule regular check-ups with your ophthalmologist and regularly clean your glasses. Improve your visibility so you can move safely and with ease.
Falls don’t have to be a part of getting older. A physical activity program, lifestyle changes and home improvements can help you stay securely on your feet.
Courtesy State Point Media, Inc.