Falling is a major concern for the population of 65 years of age and up.
In this age range, about one in four people will fall in the calendar year. This can lead to broken bones, head injuries and loss of independence for older individuals. Of the individuals that have fallen once, their risk of falling again doubles. This increase in risk of a subsequent fall can be reduced by proactive actions. If the individual can pinpoint reasons of falling, they can work to prevent the occurrence from happening again. Let’s examine some of the steps one should take to prevent a fall.
– Discuss your medications with your physician. Some prescription strength medications as well as over the counter medications can impact your balance. If you are 65 years or older, you are at risk of falling and should work with your physician to find medications that work for you and limit the risk of falling.
– Next, perform an evaluation of your living space. Look for potential trip hazards and work to get them fixed. Broken steps, extension cords and clutter in high traffic areas can all be potential trip hazards. Look at the bathroom; is the flooring slippery when wet? If so, consider applying non-slip mats and handrails to assist while entering and exiting the shower. A bath seat is a great idea to allow one to sit down while showering. Lastly, consider the lighting in your living space. If the rooms are not bright enough to illuminate your walking path consider placing additional lights in specific areas. Night lights in bedrooms, bathrooms and hallways are a great idea. Place a lamp within arm’s reach of your bed for middle of the night needs and have a flash light by your bed in the case of a power outage.
Accidents sometimes happen, but we should make every effort to prevent them. Most of these suggestions will have an associated cost. Keep in mind that the cost of preventing a fall is really an investment on your independence.
Marc Barr is the Meigs County Health Commissioner.