Each year, millions of people over 65 years old fall. In fact, one out of three fall each year, and once a person falls their chances of falling again doubles.
Not all falls cause injuries, but one out of five does. Falls can cause broken bones, such as wrist, arm, ankle, and hip fractures. Falls also may cause head injuries, which can be very serious, especially if the person is taking medicines like blood thinners. An older person who falls and hits his/her head should see their doctor right away to make sure they don’t have a brain injury. Many people who fall, even if they’re not injured, become afraid of falling. This fear may cause a person to cut down on their everyday activities or begin shuffling. When a person is less active, they become weaker, which also increases their chances of falling.
Research has identified many risk factors that contribute to falling. Many risk factors can be changed or modified to help prevent falls. They include:
• Lower body weakness
• Vitamin D deficiency
• Difficulties with walking and balance
• Medications such as tranquilizers, sedatives, or antidepressants; even some over-the-counter medicines can affect vision
• Foot pain or poor footwear
• Home hazards or dangers such as broken or uneven steps, throw rugs or clutter that can be tripped over, and lack of handrails along stairs or in the bathroom
Most falls are caused by a combination of risk factors, and the more risk factors a person has, the greater their chances of falling.
Falls can be prevented, or at least greatly reduced. There are some simple things you can do to protect yourself. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist to review all your medicines (including those that are sold over the counter). If you are not taking a vitamin D supplement with calcium, ask your physician about this. Do exercises that make your legs stronger and improve your balance two or three days a week, and flexibility exercises every day. Wear safe shoes; never wear slip on shoes or heels. Instead, wear those that tie or Velcro so they can be tightened as they begin to stretch out. Get your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year, and be sure to update your eyeglasses as needed. If you have bifocal or progressive lenses, you may want to get a pair of glasses with only your distance prescription for outdoor activities, such as walking. Sometimes bifocals or progressive lenses can make things seem closer or farther away than they really are, which can increase the risk of falling. Make your home safer by getting rid of things you could trip over, adding grab bars inside and outside your tub or shower and next to the toilet, installing railings on both sides of stairs, and making sure your home has lots of light by adding more or brighter light bulbs.
For more information about building up muscles in your legs, contact Janet Hunt, ACE certified Personal Trainer and ACE certified Group Fitness Instructor to visit one of her classes.
Janet Hunt – 256-614-3530 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Strength & Balance Class @ Senior Center on Pryor Street – M/W/F @ 8:30
Strength & Balance Class @ East Limestone Senior Center – M/W @ 11:30
Cardio & Strength Class @ Round Island Baptist Church – T/Th @ 10:00
Class are open to all. No signup needed. Donations Accepted.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.