Recognize Seven Fall-prevention Risk Factors
can be a matter of life and death, especially for seniors. Falls are the
biggest threat to our safety at home. Every year thousands of people die or are
severely injured in falls around their home. Falls lead to hip fractures and
other serious injuries. Many times falls result in disability and often makes
it impossible for a person to continue to live independently. Falls and their
consequences are the leading cause of death in people 65 years and older.
third of the older adults who fall suffer a hip fracture. Many of those die
within one year. Elders suffering from osteoporosis are
the most at risk. It has been estimated that as many as twenty percent of hip
fractures in the elderly are fatal and that over 50 percent of survivors never
leave the nursing home. Exercise, especially weight bearing, and diet are
important to protect your bones.
fall-prevention program should also include a thorough review of your living
environment to identify and eliminate as many hazards as possible. A regular home safety inspection
by a certified professional should be used to eliminate hazardous conditions
and mitigate risk. Look for hazards, such as rough floor surfaces, clutter,
throw rugs, and poor lighting. Make simple home modifications, such as grab
bars in the bathroom, a second handrail on stairs, and non-slip paint on
is a risk factor simply because most seniors will experience problems with
their eyesight, sense of balance, mobility, bone structure and reflexes.
Medical conditions such as stroke, diabetes and Parkinson's disease also
increase the risk of falls. However, there is a lot that we can do in fall-prevention.
Know your own capabilities and weaknesses and develop counter measures. Discuss
these with your physician.
requires planning and developing an understanding of what causes a person to
fall. Falls just don’t happen. There are several risk factors that can
contribute to a fall. These risk factors include your physical condition and state of fitness as
well as environmental factors. A fall is often the result of an accumulation of
these factors. Staying alert to hazards, both at home and away, is a huge way
to avoid accidents of any kind including falls.
Avoid seven risk factors for fall-prevention
Muscular changes and weakening of the bones. Such changes can make movement
difficult and make tougher to adjust to a sudden loss of balance. Good
nutrition and weight bearing exercises can help to prevent atrophy of our
muscles and weakening to the bones. Walking is a very
important exercise to help strengthen our legs and improve our balance. It
is also great for improving our cardiovascular health.
Healthy eyes are
essential in fall prevention. As we age we may experience a decrease in depth
perception making it difficult to perceive changes in elevation as in walking
down a ramp or steps. Bifocal glasses can often have the same result. We may
have more difficulty adjusting to varying levels of light and become more
sensitive to glare. A good tip is to just slow down, be careful and think about
where you are and not where you are going. Think about each step.
Balance problems. Our reflexes slow as we get older. Recognizing this
and making adjustments in our thinking about how we do things such as being
more deliberate and careful when navigating stairs can help prevent falls.
Balance can also be an indication of a more serious problem and should be
discussed with your personal physician. Exercising our legs by walking and
getting up out of a chair without using our arms can help to improve balance.
Some studies have demonstrated that yoga improves balance.
Cardiovascular Problems or a drop in blood pressure can cause a sudden loss of blood to
the brain resulting in fainting, which causes a fall. Fainting tends to be
preceded by paleness, nausea, and sweating and then by deeper and more rapid
breathing, and a rapid heartbeat. The faint can be prompted by fear, anxiety,
or pain. Overcoming
anxiety can be a good fall-prevention measure. Cardiovascular problems are
serious issues requiring professional medical intervention. The involvement of
you and your physician in blood pressure control is necessary for longevity and
for quality of life.
Some medications can affect your balance and some can increase the risk
of fainting. Many drugs affect judgment, coordination, and slow reflexes. Be
sure to discuss side effects on every prescription with your physician and
pharmacist. We should be very cautious about any medication and be sure to know
what the side effects are for each one. If you have to take a medication that
impairs functioning you should avoid any activity that needs your full
functioning balance and judgment. If you are taking any of the following
medications and are experiencing dizziness, light headedness, or your walking
or balance is affected talk to your doctor about lowering the dose or changing
the medication. These medications would include: antidepressants, antipsychotics, blood pressure-lowering medications and sleep medications.
Stress and depression can be serious distractions making
us less alert to environmental hazards. Managing stress is
important for many reasons and can help in fall-prevention. Recognizing
depression in ourselves or others can also be an important part of our
Chronic diseases. A fall or falls can be an initial symptom of a chronic disease
requiring professional medical intervention. React to the warning and get in to
see your doctor. Chronic conditions such as stroke, diabetes and Parkinson's
disease increase the risk for falls.
For references and suggested reading go to retirement resources.
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In the end it's not the years in your life that count but the life in your years. Abraham Lincoln