If I were to ask you, “What is the most likely cause of injury death for older adults?” what would you say? Car accident? Bike accident? Yoga accident?
Falls are surprisingly the leading cause of injury death for adults ages 65 years and older. The Centers for Disease Control reports over 2.5 million older adults are treated in emergency rooms for fall injuries each year. Among those that fall, 20 to 30 percent suffer moderate to severe injuries, such as head trauma and fractures.
Here are four simple, easy ways to reduce the chance of falling.
Exercise. Everyone benefits from regular exercise, no matter how old you are. Even mild exercise will increase your strength and reduce the likelihood of dangerous falls. The best forms of exercise for older adults include walking, swimming and yoga.
Watch the drugs. Often some medications, or combinations of meds, produce side effects like dizziness or drowsiness. For example, some types of antihypertensive and antidepressant drugs cause dizziness. Be wary of those types of medications, and check with your doctor to see if you are at risk for one of these potential side effects.
Get your eyes checked. Schedule an appointment with the eye doctor once a year. “For those 65 and older, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends complete eye exams every year or two,” wrote caring.com editor Karen Miles. “If a person hasn’t seen an eye doctor recently, it’s important to schedule an appointment. Even if he isn’t having any symptoms or any trouble seeing, it’s possible to have an eye disease … In fact, experts estimate that almost half of those with glaucoma don’t know they have it.” By keeping your eyesight sharp, you can avoid the bumps in the rug and the trick stair in the garage.
Have an expert walk through your home. It isn’t always easy to identify existing hazards in your home, especially when you have lived in the same home for many years. “The best way to eliminate home hazards is to invite a family member or caregiver to walk through your home and make a note of potential hazards,” said Tafa Jefferson, CEO of Amada Senior Care. “Things like clutter, loose rugs, electrical cords, worn carpet on stairs and poor lighting, among other things, all contribute to the risk of falling.”
Don’t let your loved one live in fear of falling. By exercising, watching prescription medications, receiving regular eye exams, and removing potential hazards from the home, you can remove the fear of falling from your life.
This article was published by the Orange County Register. It has been republished here with permission.