Tak­ing steps to pre­vent falls

The Weekly Vista - - News -

When you’re young, an in­jury from a fall may side­line you for a few days or weeks, but a full re­cov­ery is usu­ally quick. As you get older, the con­se­quences of falls can be­come more se­ri­ous, set­ting up a sequence of events that can have long­stand­ing im­pli­ca­tions on in­de­pen­dence and health.

It doesn’t have to be that way, how­ever. Al­though falls typ­i­cally be­come more common and can be more se­ri­ous as you age, falls are not a nat­u­ral part of get­ting older. In fact, most falls are pre­ventable. Know­ing the fac­tors that put you at greater risk of fall­ing and tak­ing proper steps can help pre­vent falls.

Risk fac­tors for falls in older peo­ple in­clude over­all health (chronic dis­eases and phys­i­cal con­di­tions), en­vi­ron­ment (haz­ards and si­t­u­a­tions at home) and be­hav­iors, such as rush­ing around or stand­ing on a chair to reach some­thing.

Th­ese steps from the ex­perts at the Na­tional Coun­cil on Ag­ing can help pre­vent falls: • Stay ac­tive: Ex­er­cise

helps in­crease or main­tain co­or­di­na­tion and mus­cle tone that can keep you steady on your feet and your re­ac­tions sharp. Walk­ing, gar­den­ing or tak­ing an ex­er­cise class are just a few ways to keep your heart healthy and your mus­cles toned. • Man­age un­der­ly­ing

chronic con­di­tions: The bet­ter your over­all health, the lower your risk of falls.

Chronic con­di­tions like di­a­betes, de­pres­sion, os­teoarthri­tis, obe­sity and high blood pres­sure can in­crease your risk. Manag­ing those con­di­tions by see­ing your health care provider reg­u­larly, tak­ing med­i­ca­tion as pre­scribed, eat­ing a healthy diet and choos­ing ap­pro­pri­ate ex­er­cise can help pre­vent falls. • Re­view med­i­ca­tions:

Side ef­fects from and in­ter­ac­tions with some med­i­ca­tions can cause dizzi­ness that can in­crease the risk of fall­ing. Types of medicine as­so­ci­ated with an in­creased risk in­clude seda­tives and di­uret­ics as well as those used to treat high blood pres­sure and anx­i­ety. Talk to your doc­tor about all pre­scrip­tions and over­the-counter medicines you are tak­ing. • Get your eyes checked:

Vi­sion changes as you age, so it is im­por­tant to get your eyes checked once a year to make sure your pre­scrip­tion is up to date and screen for any eye-re­lated dis­eases like cataracts and glau­coma, which are usu­ally treat­able when caught at an early stage. • Assess your home: Look

around your home for po­ten­tial haz­ards. Con­sider en­list­ing the help of a fam­ily mem­ber or neigh­bor who may be more likely to no­tice things you don’t. In­stall grab bars in your bath­rooms, get rid of slip­pery throw rugs (or add a rub­ber back­ing) and keep pas­sage­ways inside and out­side your home well-lit and free from clut­ter and de­bris.

For more tips and in­for­ma­tion, visit acl.gov/ fall­spre­ven­tion.

Photo cour­tesy of Getty Im­ages

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