Healthy Aging: Preventing Falls and Fractures | Imperial Club

Healthy Aging: Preventing Falls and Fractures

In the United States, an estimated two million preventable fractures occur every year. Falls, fractures and hip replacements are common problems as people get older due to bone loss, bone fragility and osteoporosis. More than 90% of hip fractures in older Americans are the result of a fall. Known as the “silent disease,” osteoporosis progresses without symptoms and involves the gradual loss of bone tissue or bone density and results in bone so fragile they break under the slightest strain. Consequently, falls are especially dangerous for people who are unaware that they have low bone density. If you are over 65 it is a good idea to talk to your doctor about a bone density test of you have not already. The following are tips to prevent falls outdoors:
*Don’t hesitate to use a walker or cane for added stability, especially in bad weather.
* Look carefully at floor surfaces in public buildings. Many floors are made of highly polished marble or tile that can be very slippery. If floors have plastic or carpet runners in place, stay on them when possible.
* Use a shoulder bag, fanny pack or backpack to leave hands free.
* Stop at curbs and check their height before stepping down. Be cautious at curbs that have cut away to allow access for bikes & wheelchairs. The incline up or down may lead to a fall.
Here are some tips to prevent falls indoors:
* Keep all rooms free of clutter, especially the floors.
* Keep floor surfaces smooth but not slippery. When entering rooms, be aware of differences in floor levels and thresholds.
* Wear supportive, low-heeled shoes, even at home. Avoid walking around in socks, stocking, or floppy backless slippers.
* Check that all carpets and area rugs have skid-proof backing or are tacked to the floor.
* Keep electrical and phone cords and wires out of walkways.
* Use a rubber mat in the shower or tub.
* Keep a flashlight with fresh batteries beside your bed.
* Consider purchasing a portable phone that you can take with you from room to room that way you can answer the phone without rushing for it and you can call for help should you have an accident.
* Don’t let prescriptions run low. Always keep at least one week’s worth of medications on hand at home. Check prescriptions with your doctor and pharmacist to see if they may be increasing your risk of falling. If you take multiple medications, check with your doctor of pharmacist about possible interactions between the different medications.
*Watch yourself in the mirror. Does your body lean or sway back and forth or side to side?
People with decreased ability to balance often have a high degree of body sway and are more likely to fall.
Probably the best way to prevent falls and combat osteoporosis is to stay physically active. Plan an exercise program that is right for you. Regular exercise improves muscles and makes you stronger.

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