A simple thing can change the life of a senior, like tripping on a rug or slipping on a wet spot on the kitchen floor. If a senior falls, then they might be like the thousands of seniors each year who break, or fracture, a bone. A broken bone might not sound awful. But, for seniors, a break can be the start of more serious problems. Many things can make seniors more likely to fall. Eyesight, hearing, muscles, and reflexes decline with the aging process. Diabetes, heart disease, or problems with nerves, or blood vessels can affect a senior’s balance. Some medicines can cause dizziness.
Then there’s osteoporosis, a disease that makes bones weak and more likely to break easily. Many people think osteoporosis is only a problem for women, but it can also affect older men. Weak bones can mean that even a minor fall might be dangerous. Don’t let a fear of falling keep you from being active. Doing things like getting together with friends, gardening, walking, or going to the local senior center are also important for staying healthy. The good news is that there are simple ways you can prevent most falls.
Take the Right Steps
If you take care of your overall health, you may be able to lower your chances of falling. Most of the time, falls and accidents don’t “just happen.” Here are a few hints that will help you avoid falls and broken bones:
- Learn how strong your bones are. Ask your doctor about a special test called a bone density test. If this test shows your bones are weak, your doctor can tell you how to make them stronger and less likely to break.
- Stay physically active. Plan an exercise program that is right for you. Regular exercise makes you stronger and improves muscles. It also helps keep your joints, tendons, and ligaments flexible. Mild weight-bearing activities, such as walking or climbing stairs, may slow bone loss from osteoporosis.
- Have your eyes and hearing tested often. Even small changes in sight and hearing can put you at risk for falling. When you get new eyeglasses, take time to get used to them. Always wear your glasses when you need them. If you have a hearing aid, be sure it fits well, and wear it.
- Find out about the side effects of any medicine you take. If a drug makes you sleepy or dizzy, tell your doctor or pharmacist.
- Get enough sleep. If you are sleepy, you are more likely to fall.
- 6. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Even a small amount can affect your balance and reflexes.
- 7. Stand up slowly after eating, lying down, or sitting. Getting up too quickly can cause your blood pressure to drop. That can make you feel faint.
- 8. Use a cane, walking stick, or walker to help you feel steadier when you walk. This is very important when you’re walking in areas you don’t know well or in places where the walkways are uneven. And be very careful when walking on wet or icy surfaces. They can be very slippery! Try to have sand or salt spread on icy areas by your front or back door.
- 9. Wear rubber-soled, low-heeled shoes that fully support your feet. Wearing only socks or shoes/slippers with smooth soles on stairs or floors without carpet can be unsafe.
- 10. You might want to think about buying a home monitoring system service. Technology has come a long way and now there are Auto Alert Medic Alarms that detect your falls as soon as they happen. There are GPS Medic Alert products that go wherever you go and work off the cellular systems.
For more information about Home Monitoring Systems contact Family Caregivers Network, or call 215-541-9030. We can provide a free home safety evaluation. Follow our blog for part 2 or Falls and Fractures. Let a senior know how important the facts can be for their safe living.