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Senior Living: Preventing Falls

July 12th, 2016


As we age, the various systems of the body that help us to maintain balance lose their efficiency.  Loss of hearing can impact coordination.  Loss of sight can make it more challenging to see steps or other terrain.  The nerves that carry information to the brain can fray and deteriorate over the years, slowing reaction time.  Decreases in strength and flexibility can make things such as standing, walking, and getting up from sitting down more challenging.

As you can see, there are a variety of factors that increase the risk of falling as we age.  However, there are precautionary steps that one can take to try to minimize their risks.  The American Chiropractic Association has recommended some of the following tips to help minimize the risk of falls:

Check Your Home for Safety Risks

Approximately a third of all falls happen within the household.  The most common concern arises from trips over objects on the floor.  You can find various home safety checklists around the web to assist you in finding what specific risks you may have in your household.  Ideally, this should be done with another family member or healthcare provider.  By minimizing potential hazards and fall risks, you can dramatically improve your chances of preventing injury.

Exercise Regularly

Some type of exercise regimen is a vital component needed to prevent risk of falling.  There are plenty of ways one can exercise, regardless of physical shape you are in at the time.  For those who have had a fairly sedentary lifestyle, starting out with walking or water aerobics can be a good way to get the body moving again.  As your physical condition improves (or if you are already relatively active), you can do jogging, group exercise classes such as step or yoga, or bike riding.

Research has shown that even a basic exercise routine can significantly decrease one’s risk for falling and other injuries.  In addition, it also helps to improve overall quality of living by improving various systems of the body.

Have Your Doctor Review Your Medications

Some medications can increase your risk of falling.  Medications can cause issues such as dizziness, light-headedness, and can impede regular brain function.  While one medication alone may not be associated with this type of risk, sometimes the combination of two or more medications can be the cause.  Sometimes even combining medications with over the counter medications can be the culprit as well, such as cough medicine or pain-killers.  Your doctor can advise you on what may increase your risk of falls by reviewing both your medications and daily lifestyle.

Have Your Vision Checked

Vision impairment can make it harder to notice things such as an incline in terrain or obstructions in your path.  It can also alter your depth perception, making it harder to see how close things actually are.  Checking your vision can ensure that any vision issues are corrected to help reduce your chances of falls and other injuries.  If you do require glasses, be sure to clean them regularly as well, as even small smudges can prevent one from seeing a potential danger.

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