Falling can Change your Life
As people age, the likelihood of falling increases. It sounds strange, but a simple slip as an old person, the kind that happened all the time when you were a kid, can change your life. A resulting injury can be serious enough to cause you to lose your independence. Even if the consequences aren't that serious, you can lose confidence in yourself
Be aware of the reasons for falls, and then you're in a good position to prevent them.
An uncluttered, brightly lit environment is the way to go if you want to prevent falling in your home.
Keep things in their place.
Don't let clutter get the best of you. Small objects can block your path and cause you to fall. Take special care after a visit from your grandchildren. Be on the lookout for small toys they left behind.
Install bathroom handrails.
Soap and towel racks aren't designed to support the weight of a human being. The racks can give way when you grab them, and you can go crashing down onto the hard bathroom surface.
Secure area rugs.
These small rugs can make you trip if they're not secured to the floor. Make sure they have non-skid backings.
Watch out for pets.
Pets have a knack for getting under foot. Always be attuned to their whereabouts.
Avoid uneven walking surfaces.
Broken sidewalks, construction areas, etc. can make you lose your footing. Walk slowly and be extra careful in areas like this.
Keep lighting bright.
Make sure you have enough lamps in your home, and use the highest wattage possible in your light bulbs. The outside should be well lit too.
Physical reasons for falls
Why do you have to take such care not to fall as you get older? There are physical reasons that falls increase as people age.
It's more common to develop a chronic condition as you age. Heart disease and high blood pressure can cause dizziness. Arthritis can cause stiffness. Other conditions might cause weakness.
Older people often take quite a few medications. Sometimes, dizziness is a side effect. If this is the case with you, talk with your doctor about the possibility of decreasing the dosage or changing medicines. Additionally, make sure your doctor knows about every medicine you take. It's sometimes possible that you could be taking more medication than you actually need to. (But don't stop taking any pills without talking to your doctor.)
Drinking too much alcohol.
If you find yourself drinking more alcohol than you used to, talk with your doctor or other healthcare professional. This is actually a common problem among the elderly, one that may need professional treatment.
Normal body changes.
Vision changes, loss of flexibility, decrease in muscle strength, and change in sleep patterns can all lead to falls. See your eye doctor regularly to make sure your eyeglass prescription is correct. Last but not least, get regular exercise. A good fitness program can increase your strength, improve your balance, increase flexibility, improve sleep and in general make you feel better.
Read this month's article Getting Older, Staying Fit for helpful tips about getting regular exercise.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; The National Institute on Aging, April 2002