Fall Prevention

Falls and Older Adults: There IS something you can do

by Jane French

Most adults envision retirement age as a chance to pursue new interests, careers, volunteering, and travel. As people age, however, the likelihood of sustaining an injury as a result of a fall increases. More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling – usually by falling sideways – and falls are also the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI). One out of five falls experienced by older adults causes a serious injury, making it hard for a person to get around, do everyday activities, or live on their own. Even if they’re not injured, many people become afraid of falling and cut down on everyday activities. Ironically, when older people are less active, they become weaker, thus increasing the chances of falling.

The good news: Research shows that falls are not an inevitable part of aging. There are things people can do to reduce falls and maintain an active, engaged lifestyle:

  • Eliminate the most common causes of falls
  • Commit to good balance, in addition to cardio and strength training

Eliminate the most common causes of falls:

  • Remove clutter and tripping hazards to make your home safer.
  • Get your vision checked regularly.
  • Talk to a doctor about any dizziness. Don’t assume you have to live with it.
  • Choose the right shoes and wear them in the house.
  • Make sure you’re using your cane or walker correctly.

Commit to good balance:

Some people think that they are protecting themselves by using treadmills for cardio exercises and other machines for strength training. However, by holding on to machine handles and bars, they reduce their ability to balance and avoid falls. Balance training, practiced separately from machine exercises, is now recognized as integral to fall prevention programs.

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