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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

5 Ways to Prevent Falls

Help! I've fallen, and I can't get up! Those are words you never want to hear from a loved one. Whwile falls can happen to people of all ages, it is especially hard to recover from a fall as you get older.

Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in adults, ages 65 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Common injuries from falls include head injuries, dislocated shoulders, sprained ankles, and fractures to the arm, spine, pelvis, and hip.

Unfortunately, studies show that the majority of falls resulting in injury could actually have been prevented. Here are five tips to minimize falling:

1. Check your health.

Commit to an annual physical and eye exam, and avoid excessive alcohol consumption and smoking. Alcohol abuse and smoking can lead to high blood pressure and heart conditions which may cause bouts of dizziness or fainting.

2. Understand your medications.

Discuss with your doctor possible side effects of any over-the-counter or prescription medications you take. Make sure to always use caution if something mentions fatigue or dizziness. And remember to take medications on schedule and with a full glass of water or food, as directed.

3. Exercise regularly.

Walking, hiking, bike riding, dancing, weight training, and even yoga, are all great forms of exerciise that build bone strength and stave off osteoporosis - a condition causing bones to weaken and become brittle. Brittle bones are more susceptible to breaks and fractures should you take a tumble.

4. Go shoe shopping.

Wearing properly-fitting shoes can go a long way to prevent falls. Have your shoes professionally size/fitted, and make sure you are capable of tying and/or putting them on yourself. Consider Velcro fasteners if that is an easier option, and look for shoes with non-skid soles.

5. Tidy up your house.

Keep doorways, hallways, stairs, and routes between bedrooms and bathrooms well-lit and free of clutter. Make sure electrical cords are clear of pathways, and area rugs are secured to the floor with double-sided tape or slip-resistant padding. Also be sure to clean up spills or puddles immediately in the kitchen and bathrooms. Finally, organize commonly used items in lower cabinets/shelves so that they are within easy reach.

Courtesy of AAOS, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons)

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