Here is another way to take care of ourselves: stay on our own two feet. This means really being serious about fall prevention. We need to balance our lives in many ways, like this image illustrating time for ourselves and for others. My blog is going to focus on maintaining and improving our physical balance.
All of us have heard at least one horror story about an elderly person living alone who is highly functioning with a great quality of life. Then, they have a fall. Maybe they break a hip, or an arm, or worse. Their lifestyle may be permanently altered to the point where they can no longer live independently or at the level of quality they had before.
Becoming frail and falling is NOT a normal part of aging. “Use it or lose it,” is a phrase we have heard in so many contexts. Keeping our muscles strong and flexible and maintaining bone density are just two ways to keep ourselves upright and injury free.
The National Institute on Aging has some great resources on preventing falls. Here are some of their tips. You can read a wonderful article at their website:
Risk Factors for Falling
- Diseases like diabetes and heart disease
- Some medications
- Safety hazards in the home or environment
- Muscle weakness
- Balance and gait problems
- Blood pressure that drops suddenly when getting up from a lower position
- Foot pain and unsafe footwear
Tips for Fall Prevention
- Keep on the move. Either exercising or doing physical activities can keep your muscles and bones strong. Being active also helps with flexibility and balance.
- Stay up-to-date with eyes and hearing testing. Small changes can affect your mobility.
- Check if any of your medicines cause dizziness or sleepiness.
- Get enough sleep
- Even a small amount of alcohol can affect balance and reflexes.
- Be careful on wet surfaces that may be slippery
- Wear non-skid shoes that fully support your feet.
- Always tell your doctor if you have fallen since your last appointment.
Making some small changes in your home and keep you safe for as well:
- Keep all kinds of electrical and blind cords out of walking pathways.
- Throw rugs can be a big source for tripping.
- Having handrails in the shower by the toilet are helpful too.
- Be sure to hold onto handrails going up and downstairs.
If You Do Fall…
Try to stay as calm as possible. It’s very frightening to find yourself on the floor all of a sudden. First of all, check to see if anything is seriously injured. Do this by gently moving your arms and legs and head. The website listed earlier has detailed instructions about what to do to help get off the floor. It’s always helpful to have a cell phone nearby for these kinds of emergencies. Also, some sort of emergency button that you wear as a necklace or bracelet can be a lifesaver.
For More Information About Falls and Falls Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
National Resource Center on Supportive Housing and Home Modifications
The following is a system of exercises that can help with balance.
The Gokhale Method uses healthy posture and movement to help you restore your structural integrity and regain a pain-free life.