Many people who fall, even if they are not injured, develop a fear of falling. This fear may cause them to limit their activities, which leads to reduced mobility and loss of physical fitness, and in turn increases their actual risk of falling. We don’t want you to be scared of falling, so we will share five tips on how you can reduce your risk of falling.
1. Be Physically Active: Regular physical activity is a first line of defense against falls and fractures. Physical activity strengthens muscles and increases flexibility and endurance. Your balance and the way you walk may improve with exercise, decreasing the chances of a fall.
2. Review Medications with Your Doctor: All drugs carry side effects and can interact with other medications. For many medications, one or more side effects affect balance. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, common problems include vision changes, dizziness or lightheadedness, drowsiness, and impaired alertness or judgment. Some medications may damage the inner ear, spurring temporary or permanent balance disorders.
3. Check Your Vision, Hearing and Blood Pressure: You should have your vision tested regularly or if you think it has changed. Even small changes in sight can make you less stable. Not being able to hear well can impact your balance by causing you to have to react at the last minute. Some older people have normal or increased blood pressure while seated, but their blood pressure drops too much while standing. There is no way to know unless you check. Tell your doctor if you feel faint or unsteady when you get up from sitting or lying down.
4. Choose Safe Footwear: Our feet have nerves that help us judge the position of our bodies. To work correctly, our feet need to be in touch with the ground and our shoes need to stay securely with the foot as we take each step. Otherwise, falls may occur. It’s important to select your footwear carefully to help prevent falls. Wear sensible, low-heeled shoes that fit well and support your feet. There should be no marks on your feet when you take off your shoes and socks.
5. Make Your Home Safe: Remove or avoid safety hazards. Improve the lighting throughout your home. Have handrails installed on both sides of stairs and walkways. If you must carry something while walking up or down stairs, hold the item in one hand and use the handrail with the other. When you’re carrying something, be sure you can see where your feet are stepping. Properly place grab bars in your tub and shower, and next to the toilet, to help you avoid falls. Also, move items to make them easier to reach.
To learn more about reducing your risk of falls, register for our free “Fall Prevention” class. You do not have to be a patient or resident of The Villages to attend.