This is a repost from Muriel Cole of Homeports in Chesterton, Maryland
Originally posted in her column Senior Matters
We older adults grudgingly acknowledge that age is a risk factor for illnesses and injuries. And our goal is, of course, healthy aging.
“While we are seeing increases in the lifespan, healthy aging is still a challenge,” according to Pamela Ouyang, Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.
Falls are among the most serious and common problems that threaten our health and independence, and are the leading cause of death by accidental injury for those over 65. Although many falls do not result in an injury, falling once doubles your chances of falling again.
Muscle loss, that comes with getting older, is a significant risk factor. “Sitting is the new smoking,” according to Ouyang. While there are circumstances that we cannot change, we can reduce our fall risks by staying active.
As one gets older, physical changes and health conditions — and sometimes the medications used to treat those conditions — make falls more likely. Six in 10 falls occur in the home and can lead to:
- Fear of falling
- Sedentary behavior
- Impaired function
- Lower quality of life
“Considerable evidence now documents that the most effective (and cost-effective) fall reduction programs have involved systematic fall risk assessment and targeted interventions, exercise programs and environmental-inspection and hazard-reduction programs,” according to Laurence Z. Rubenstein of the UCLA School of Medicine and Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center.
He notes that the U.S. Public Health Service has estimated that two-thirds of deaths due to falls are potentially preventable, based on an analysis of causes and circumstances of serious falls.
Tips to stay safe:
- Have your health care provider review your medicines
- Have your vision checked
- Wear sensible shoes- sturdy with nonskid soles
- Light up your living space
- Make your home safer. Removing hazards and using simple assistive devises
And the big one: Exercise. Those who fear falling can benefit from custom-designed balance exercises, prescribed by a physical therapist. Ask your doctor for a referral.
A smart idea is for seniors or family members to review a home safety check list such as the one offered by AARP here!
–Muriel Cole, Member of the Community of Practice