Falls are the second leading cause of accidental death. Seniors are the most at risk for a serious fall because of changes in balance and strength that can come with aging.
Taking a few common sense precautions can help prevent falls and hip fractures. The following basic actions could save your life, prevent a hip fracture and keep you independent longer.
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When you have osteoporosis, keeping still may seem like the best way to prevent falls and broken bones. But exercise improves strength, flexibility, and balance — which help you stay on your feet. Stick with low-impact activities like walking or swimming rather than sports that require bending and twisting, like golf, or those with a high risk of falling, like skiing. Experts often recommend tai chi.
2. Talk to Your Doctor About Your Meds
Many medicines and medication combinations can make you dangerously drowsy or dizzy. Review everything you’re taking with your doctor. Do you still need all of them? Could you take smaller doses? Should you switch medications? Also, ask about other health conditions that might affect your stability. Vision and ear problems are especially likely to upset your balance.
3. Watch Your Step
Be careful where you step. If a sidewalk looks slippery, walk on the grass. In winter, consider carrying a small bag of salt or kitty litter for traction on icy paths. Highly polished marble or tile floors can be slippery, so try staying on carpet when possible. And look out for uneven surfaces, curbs, and high door thresholds.
4. Be Shoe Smart
Walking barefoot or in socks can increase your risk of falls, so wear shoes even indoors. Choose footwear with low heels and slip-resistant soles. Be sure your shoes fit properly, and use a shoehorn for help putting them on. Women who have trouble finding wide enough athletic shoes might find men’s shoes fit better. Replace slippers that have stretched out and gotten loose. And keep those laces tied!
5. Clear Clutter
Arrange furnishings so that it’s easy to walk around your home. Keep low coffee tables, magazine racks, stools, and plants out of your path. Remove obstacles like boxes, newspapers, or piles of clothing. And make sure electric cords and phone lines are out of the way. Don’t forget your yard — rake leaves to keep walkways clear.
6. Go Slow