With aging, systems that keep us balanced and standing upright require more awareness. You may no longer see or hear, which can affect your coordination. Nerves that carry information from your brain to your muscles may deteriorate, slowing your reaction time and making it more difficult to move.
Do not let the fear of falling rule your life, as many falls and fall-related injuries are preventable. Consider some of these strategies to reduce the risk of falling.
Perform a Home Safety Check – The most common falls occur when people trip over objects on the floor.
Make sure to check all living spaces. Here are some reminders on what you should check.
Ensure the telephone can be reached from the floor.
Remove throw rugs.
Secure carpet edges with tape or tacks.
Remove low furniture and objects on the floor.
Remove or cover cords and wires on the floor.
Check for adequate lighting at night.
Remove carpet or install treads on stairs.
Install handrails on staircases.
Eliminate chairs that are too low to sit in and get out of easily.
Regular Exercise Program – Begin an exercise program that includes strength training, balance training and activities such as walking and water workouts. Exercise reduces your risk of falls by improving your strength, balance, coordination and flexibility.
Review Your Medications – Your risk of falling may increase if you take certain prescription medications. Many medications have side effects that can affect your brain function and lead to dizziness or lightheadedness. Medications that can increase your risk of falling include psychotropics, antiarrhythmics, diuretics and sedatives.
Have Your Vision Checked – Reduced vision increases risk of falls. Age-related vision diseases can alter your depth perception and visual acuity. These limitations hinder your ability to move safely. It is important to have regular check-ups with your eye doctor.
Nutritional Considerations – Osteoporosis makes bones less resistant to stress and more likely to fracture. These weaknesses are caused by hormonal changes, calcium and vitamin D deficiencies and a decrease in physical activity. To help limit the effects of osteoporosis, be sure to eat or drink calcium-rich foods including milk, yogurt, cheese, fish and shellfish, broccoli, soybeans, collards and turnip greens, tofu and almonds.
Falls don’t have to be a part of getting older. You have the power to stay securely on your feet. A physical activity program, lifestyle changes and home improvements can reduce your risk of serious injury.