No matter your age, falling injuries don’t have to be part of your future. As you age, the risks increase, but there are things you can do to minimize the risk of falling and the risk of serious injury if you do fall. It’s tempting to believe you’re at the mercy of your surroundings, but don’t fall for it; you have more control than you think.
Several things pose fallings risks, and it is important to be aware of these. Common household items and activities can increase your chance of falling—rugs, cords, stairs, toys, etc.—these require constant navigation. The bathroom is where most falls happen in the home. Bath mats, wet floors, and slippery tile can easily cause you to lose your footing if you’re not careful. In addition to these daily hazards, aging carries its own set of risks like deteriorating eyesight, medication, muscle loss, and lower bone quality. This dangerous combination makes falling a high possibility for seniors.
Falling is the number one cause of injury among older people. That breaks down to one in three seniors who will fall each year. One of the major reasons falls are so serious is the risk of fracture. A fracture in itself causes complications, but in many cases for people age 55 or older, it begins a vicious cycle. A bone fracture puts a person at greater risk for additional fractures because of inactivity due to the injury or avoidance of activity for fear of another fall—both of which lead to more bone weakening.
Protection for Your Body
The best thing a person can do to lower risk is to increase the body’s resilience to falling rather than focusing on not falling alone. Obviously, it is smart to take precautions against falling as well, but even the best laid plans can’t protect you from everything. Should you fall, you want your muscles and bones to be strong enough to withstand the impact. Regular activity to improve core strength and muscle will make you more physically capable of handling a fall. Exercises and activities that increase flexibility and balance will help prevent falls, lessen the chance of injury from falls, and decrease recovery time in the case of injury.
Caring for your bones is also an important part of physical protection against falling injury. Everyone starts to lose bone density after their 20s, so no matter your age, it is important to do things now to help prevent fall injury long in the future. To remain healthy, bones need calcium and vitamin D. Most people are vitamin D deficient and benefit from a supplement. Women are especially at risk for calcium loss as they age and during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about whether supplements could be helpful for your bones. One of the best ways to build bone density is through regular exercise, so as you work to improve your muscle strength and flexibility, you’re also making your bones stronger—pretty good case for regular exercise!
Protection from Your Surroundings
It would be silly to acknowledge the risks and work to protect your body and do nothing about your surroundings. The things around us are largely responsible for falls, and our homes are the most problematic. Keep the floors clear of clutter—put clothes away, hang up towels, and have a designated area for toys and shoes. Repair any loose floor boards or stairs. Install handrails on stairs, in the shower, by the toilet, and any other place that balance could be an issue. Wear appropriate footwear like non-slip shoes or slippers with a sole, and avoid loose socks that could make you trip or footwear that lowers traction. Use safety steps with a handrail to reach things high up, and never stand on a chair, counter, or ledge to reach something. Make sure hallways and floors are well-lit, especially at night. There are many things that can cause falls, so take a tour around your home to identify potential falling hazards and make a list of what needs removed or fixed.
Falling is a common enough occurrence that we all need to take prevention seriously. Because of the risks associated with falls, always talk to your doctor if you have experienced a fall, even if you don’t think you are injured. If you have fallen recently or have been injured from a fall and have questions about resulting risk, Capital Ortho can treat the injury and discuss risks with you. Make an appointment with us online today!