The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Falling down is no laughing matter, and everyone, especially people in retirement, should give this issue more attention. Falls account for more injuries in people aged 65 and older than any other cause, and preventing them takes more than just improving balance. September is Fall Prevention Month, and now is a good time to think about what you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones from the dangers of falling.
It’s Kind of a Big Deal
Taking a spill may cause a few bruises, even a bruised ego, but some injuries can be quite severe. Head trauma is one major concern because you could have bleeding or pressure in your skull. Other worries include broken bones, most commonly wrist, back, and hip fractures, which can be debilitating for otherwise active people. When you are older, it does take longer to heal, and you may not realize your limitations during recovery. Some people can even become anxious after a fall and limit their movement and activity level as a way of avoiding the possibility of tumbling.
While people of any age can get hurt from a fall, seniors are at a higher risk for a number of reasons. Older people are more likely to be less flexible or have difficulty with balance. They may have frail or fragile bones and poor vision. Medical conditions may also be a factor; for example, diabetes can lead to decreased peripheral sensation, leaving sufferers less able to feel the ground beneath their feet. Dizziness and fluctuations in blood pressure are frequent side effects for many medications, adding to the risk. In addition, if you have recently been hospitalized, you may feel weaker as you recuperate.
Taking Smart Steps for Safety
Now that you understand more about why fall prevention is necessary, you can take control of some of those factors to protect yourself from injury. Here are a few ways you can be safer in your home:
- Keep walkways clear of clutter.
- Remove any slippery rugs or other tripping hazards.
- Turn on lights so you can see where you are going.
- Add safety measures such as grab bars, elevated toilet seats, shower benches, and textured non-slip flooring to bathrooms.
- Make the switch to shoes that provide better support and traction.
- Consider using a medical alert device if you live alone or have a history of falling.
You should talk to your medical provider about potential side effects from medication, especially if you feel light-headed. During your visit, discuss what exercises you can do to increase your strength and flexibility. Activities such as water aerobics, yoga, and tai chi are can be great workouts for improving balance for every level of fitness. You may also need an eye exam to see what treatment options you have to preserve or improve your eyesight.
How We Can Help
Galloway Ridge takes the safety and health of our residents very seriously. We are featuring a lecture on fall prevention on Tuesday, September 20, at 10 am in the Chapin Auditorium. Join us to learn more about how to stay safely on your feet. We also invite you to participate in the Strong and Stable class, offered by the Duke Center For Living, which is an 8-week program to help reduce your fall risk.