March 31, 1995 in Seven

Preventive Measures Reduces Risk Of Falling

Paula Dillon Mays
 

Fear of falling down plagues many elderly people.

Falls not only break bones, especially hips, they also break self-confidence. Those who suffer a fall become anxious about even daily activities for fear of falling again.

Statistics indicate their fears are justified. Hip fractures are a frequent reason for admittance to nursing homes. Nearly $10 billion are spent annually for the treatment of hip fractures; the costs can run up to $12,000 for treatment of a fractured hip.

Professionals have identified the following risk factors associated with falling:

Older people taking drugs such as sedatives or anti-anxiety medications are at a high risk especially if these drugs were not well-managed.

Postural hypertension, an exaggerated drop in blood pressure when standing up, is a risk.

Muscle weakness poses another risk factor.

Here are some suggestions for reducing the risk factors:

Address strength as a major fitness goal. A regular strengthening exercise program will make your arms and legs stronger and you will be able to perform everyday activities more easily.

Be certain that your eyeglasses are the proper prescription, and have your eyes checked regularly.

If you find yourself grabbing walls, door knobs or furniture for support, have safety bars installed next to stairs, in bathrooms or wherever they may be needed.

Talk to your doctor or therapist if functional activities such as getting out of a chair, off the toilet or walking around your house are difficult.

Purchase furniture that is appropriate for your physical condition.

Make sure your house is safe. Throw rugs can be a concern. Wet spots or slick areas on floors need to be addressed. Furniture should not be placed in areas that may cause tripping or may be difficult to get around. Pet dishes should be in corners and away from the normal walkway. Proper lighting is a must. Night lights in bathrooms and hallways help with night safety. Light switches should be placed in easy-access areas.

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