Living a vibrant, active lifestyle at any age requires guarding your mobility and health. That becomes even truer as we age, but many older adults don't realize that a simple fall may be one of the most common dangers they face. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 25% of adults over the age of 65 experience a significant fall annually. And around 20% of those falls cause a serious issue like a broken bone or head injury.
Luckily, you can do a lot yourself to prevent falls. Simply being cognizant that they're a danger can help you be aware of fall risks and take more care as you move around your home and other areas. Here are seven tips for keeping falls at bay while protecting your independence and active lifestyle.
Do an inspection of all the floor areas in your home or ask someone to help you do it. Look for any uneven flooring that might cause you to trip and fall as you move through your space. Uneven floorboards, nails sticking up or out of place and thresholds that need to be repaired can all be issues. So can old carpet that's tucked up in places or rugs that roll.
Area rugs themselves can be an issue, as they can move or flip up, causing a tripping hazard. If you love the look of them in your home, consider investing in nonslip mats to go under them.
While you're looking at floors, keep an eye out for other tripping hazards, like cords that run across well-traveled walking spaces or items that are stored on the floor and can be moved.
Being exhausted reduces the efficacy of all your body functions, including balance and mobility. And when you walk around tired, you're more likely to experience a fall.
Protect your sleep with habits such as:
• Going to bed at the same time each night
• Turning off mobile devices, computers and televisions at least 30 minutes before you plan to go to bed
• Reducing how much you drink in the hour or so before bed to reduce middle of the night awakenings to use the restroom
• Cutting down on caffeine and not having any after lunch
• Creating an evening routine for yourself that you find relaxing so you can move into a time where your mind and body is ready for rest
Balance and strength may diminish with age, but in many cases, you can hold on to a lot of this function with proper exercise and regular use of your body. Get out and walk regularly, and engage in workout routines meant to build strength and increase balance.
Consider joining senior exercise programs in your assisted living community, at a local senior center or at your gym. These exercise classes tend to devote time to building up areas that are most helpful for older adults.
Before you engage in a new workout program, though, check with your physician. Ask whether there are modifications you should consider and what level of exercise is healthy for you.
Using assistive devices is a great way to maintain mobile and independent while protecting yourself from falls. If you need a little help with balance, use a cane or walker as you move around your home or local community. Consider having a grabbing device in each room to help you reach items on or near the floor without bending over and putting yourself at greater risks of falls, especially if you have a condition that might contribute to dizziness when you bend.
Blood pressure issues and other medical conditions can cause dizziness when you stand quickly from other positions. If you know you experience this issue, even periodically, take a few more seconds to come to a standing position to let your blood pressure regulate.
It's also a good idea to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the side effects of any medications you might be taking. If you're taking anything that could make you dizzy or impact blood pressure, it's a good idea to be more cautious than normal.
Consider the way furniture is set up in your home. Ensure there are clear walking paths between rooms and other areas you use frequently so you're not bumping into furniture as you go. You might also want to install some nightlights to illuminate your path if you wake up in the night and need the restroom or something to drink.
Finally, take extra care when moving on any type of slick surface. This is especially important in winter, when outdoor surfaces could be covered in surprise ice. Wear shoes with plenty of grip and hold on to handrails and other supports as you walk these types of paths.
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