If You Fail to Prepare, You Prepare to FALL
That title is not a typo.
Hopefully, the recent dose of snow is not an indicator of an early and long winter. ‘Tis the season to be merry is a few months away, but ‘tis the season to slip and fall is on the horizon.
Here are some statistics that may wake you up to the impact that falls have on our elderly (from Statistics Canada):
· Each year, one in three seniors aged 65 years and older are likely to fall at least once;
· Falls are the most common cause of injury among older Canadians;
· Falls are one of the leading causes of injury-related hospitalizations among seniors; · Over one-third of seniors who are hospitalized as a result of a fall end up in longterm care.
As a chiropractor, I often see people after their falls. If they don’t end up in emergency with a fracture or head trauma, they are likely to show up in my office. Even without an injury that requires a hospital stay or a cast, falls can be a leading cause of disability in seniors.
Another interesting fact is that many seniors underestimate their risk of falling. In doing so, many of the elderly take on activities without managing their risk. Prime examples are not respecting how slippery a set of stairs may be, not turning lights on when going downstairs, and not considering how slippery bowling shoes really are before hitting the lanes. The opposite is true as well, in that too many times the risk of falling is overestimated. Seniors are often too paranoid to leave the house for six months of the year. Being this overly protective from falling can keep people away from activities that help them stay stronger, improving one’s stability and strength.
“If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fall.”
Preventing falls from happening is the best way to deal with falls. There are some strategies most people (and not just the elderly) can do to limit their risk of falling, no matter what time of year.
Exercise. If your doctor says your heart and lungs are strong enough, exercise to increase your leg and hip strength, and flexibility, can make you more stable. If you don’t know what to do, or how to exercise, a physiotherapist, a personal trainer or your chiropractor can offer advice.
Assess your own home. Too many falls occur in the place you actually feel the most secure. Folded bathroom mats, slippery hardwood, and a soapy bathtub are just a few things that increase risk of falling. The elderly often get up in the middle of the night to use the toilet. Lighting up the areas you move around can make you more aware of your surroundings.
Drugs. I don’t mean the illicit ones, I am referring to the ones you are prescribed. A common cause of falling is dizziness. Dizziness is a common side effect of prescribed medications, especially when there are interactions of multiple drugs. Your doctor or pharmacist should be made aware if you are experiencing dizziness. Footwear. Choose the proper footwear for inside and outside your home. Tread, quality of fit, and height of heel are a few things to look for in a shoe.
Don’t be one to add to the statistics. Devise a strategy to limit your risk of falling this year and for years to come.