How to Prevent Falls and Stay on Your Feet
Falls are the most common cause of accidental injury among seniors in the United States. Each year, more than one-third of Americans over the age of 65 suffer a fall, resulting in some 13,700 deaths.
Older people are more likely to fall because they take medications that can impair their balance, vision or strength, or that reduce their blood pressure level to the point that not enough blood reaches the brain. Older adults are also more susceptible to osteoporosis, a condition that causes loss of bone mass and leads to greater risk of broken bones.
Studies point to the bathroom as the most dangerous room in the home. Slippery tub and shower floors, poor lighting, or poor or wobbly toilet seats are the leading causes of falls. Living rooms, bedrooms and hallways are the next most dangerous because of loose throw rugs, electrical cords, and slippery floors.
Lewis A. Lipsitz, MD, director of
Hebrew SeniorLife's Institute for Aging Research, says that to reduce the risk of falls:
- Ask your doctor whether you can take blood pressure medication between meals to avoid a large drop in blood pressure after eating. Older adults can experience a drop in blood pressure after eating, especially if medications to lower blood pressure are taken before meals.
- Take prescribed medications as ordered by your physician, and be careful of interactions with other drugs.
- Exercise to improve muscle strength in your legs.
- Have your eyes and ears examined annually.
- Take safety precautions in your home, including removing scatter rugs, taping down electrical and telephone cords, installing grab bars in bathrooms, and keeping all living areas well lit.
Above content provided by Hebrew SeniorLife in partnership with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.
Posted July 2012