My great-grandfather golfed right up until he was 98. It wasn’t his age that eventually stopped him from hitting the golf course; it was a fall. According to the CDC, every year, one in every three adults ages 65 or older falls. Two million are treated in emergency departments for fall-related injuries.
Common injuries resulting from a fall can include fractures to the hip or an upper extremity, cuts, sprains and strains, injuries to internal organs and joint dislocations. A fall can result in the senior being afraid to fall again which may curtail some of their favorite activities.
Though the risk increases as a senior ages, the likelihood of a fall can be lessoned if one is careful. This is by no means a comprehensive list of fall risk reduction strategies, but it may give you some ideas on how to get started.
Here are a few things you can do to lower your chances of falling:
- Exercise. Exercise. Exercise. It doesn’t have to be strenuous exercising. Something as simple as taking a walk around the block can help. Over time these activities should get more challenging so you increase leg strength and balance. Another program that has been especially helpful for some is Tai Chi whose main tenet is slow, rhythmic motions designed to increase strength and balance. Be sure to check with your physician before beginning any exercise program.
- Ensure your home has been examined to prevent the risk of falls. Comfort Keepers® offices provide a free fall risk assessment and there are other sources, online, that may help you. (You can visit the CDC’s website or the Fall Prevention Center of Excellence for more resources.) For instance, adding grab bars in places such as the stairways and bathrooms can help reduce the risk for falls.
- Get your vision checked by a doctor and make sure your house is well lit.
- Certain medications can cause dizziness. Talk with your doctor if you are concerned about your balance.
There isn’t just one answer for how to reduce the risk of a fall, and it may take a combination of factors to lesson your risk. Understanding what may cause a fall goes a long way to helping to reduce your chances of falling.