The stats surrounding fall and injuries from falls among the older population in the United States are alarming. Each year, three million older adults head to the ER because of a fall, and 800,000 people are hospitalized due to fall injuries, with hip fractures leading the charge.
No matter what age you are, some solid fall prevention practices are never a bad idea, which is why the team here at Western Orthopaedics is presenting five such tips here.
Some background on falling
There are many reasons why older people are more prone to falling, such as:
- Loss of muscle mass, which leads to balance issues
- Slower reflexes
- Hypotension — low blood pressure — which can lead to dizziness
- Declining eyesight and hearing
- Foot and/or joint pain
At the same time as the risks for falling go up, so do the risks for injury, as bone density loss as you age is common, leaving you more vulnerable to fractures.
Staying on your feet
While age is a strong risk factor when it comes to falling, it isn’t the only one. If you’re unsteady on your feet for other reasons, such as joint issues or weakness due to a medical issue, fall prevention is important.
So, no matter your age, we recommend instituting a few best practices to help prevent falling and injuring yourself.
1. Get stronger and balanced through physical therapy
One of our strongest recommendations is to strengthen your body and improve your balance through physical therapy (PT).
As you get older, you can face sarcopenia, which is age-related loss of muscle mass. Through PT, we can help you rebuild a solid musculoskeletal foundation that will keep you upright and allow you to correct your body position more easily and quickly.
In addition to strength, we also work on balance exercises, which can do wonders for fall prevention.
2. Remove hazards around the home
Many falls are due to tripping, so spending some time removing potential tripping hazards around your home is time well spent. From wires that cross your floor to loose throw rugs, take a good look at what might be a potential tripping hazard and remove those things.
This might also include moving some furniture around so you can more easily navigate your room without constantly running into the corner of the coffee table, for example.
3. Get a helping hand
There are certain places in your home that can benefit from a helping hand, such as your stairs or your bathroom. Installing banisters, hand holds, and grab bars in key areas is a great way to maintain your balance, steady yourself, and help you get up and down, whether we're talking about stairs or getting off the toilet.
4. See the light
Another way to prevent falls is to lighten up dark areas. As you get older, your eyes aren’t what they used to be and dark areas become darker. It’s a good idea to light up those dark places around your home, whether it’s a hallway or corner of the room, so you can see your way clearly.
On a side note, strategically placed nightlights are great for lighting midnight runs to the bathroom or kitchen.
5. If the shoe fits
Inside your house, avoid running around in socks, which can be very slippery. Instead, get yourself a good pair of slippers that have grippy soles and fit your feet snugly.
Outside the home, make sure that you're wearing shoes that fit properly and have good treads. Loose flip flops, heels, and slick soles are asking for trouble when it comes to falling.
If you want more ideas for preventing falls, feel free contact one of our offices in Arvada or Denver, Colorado, to schedule a consultation.