Every 18 seconds, an older adult is treated in an emergency department for a fall. Every 35 minutes an older adult dies because of their injuries. Each year, 20% – 30% of people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries such as bruises, hip fractures or head traumas. Current annual direct medical costs $19.2 billion. Projected 2020 annual cost is $54.9 billion. These are frightening facts. But there are many things you can do to prevent becoming one of these statistics.
Begin a regular exercise program. Studies show that balance, flexibility, and strength training not only improve mobility but also reduce the risk of falling. The majority of older adults do not exercise regularly and 35% of people over the age of 65 do not participate in any leisurely physical activities. Many people who have already fallen simply stop exercising for fear of falling again. Tai Chi is an example of a popular exercise that promotes balance and coordination.
Medications. Taking more than four medications increases your risk for falls.
Have your doctor or pharmacist look at all the medicines you take (including ones that don’t need prescriptions such as cold medicines). As you get older, the way some medicines work in your body can change. Some medicines, or combinations of medicines, can make you drowsy or light-headed which can lead to a fall. Always get up slowly after lying or sitting. Fluctuation in blood pressure can also make you dizzy.
Have your vision checked. Bi-focal and tri-focal eyeglasses are ideal for reading, when the wearer is looking downward through them. These glasses are therefore not appropriate for safe walking. Glaucoma or cataracts can also limit your vision. Go visit your eye doctor at least annually for a check up.
Make your home safer. Review the environmental hazards in each room. Do you have objects such as shoes, books or boxes on the floor? Is the carpeting loose or bubbled? Remove small throw rugs or use double-sided tape to keep the rugs from slipping. Rearrange furniture that you have to regularly maneuver around. Check all handrails to make sure they are in good repair.
A few other things you can do to prevent falls include adding nightlights to lead the path from the bedroom to the bathroom. Keep items you use often in cabinets you can reach easily without using a step stool. Never stand on a chair. Have grab bars installed in your bathroom and use non-slip mats on the floor of the shower or tub. Wear sturdy shoes both inside and outside the house that have thin non-slip soles. Avoid going barefoot, wearing slippers and athletic shoes with deep treads.
Kingston Residence is proud to announce they are adding a Wellness room for their residents. The grand opening is scheduled for August 1st and we invite you to visit and to stay tuned for exercise and class opportunities.