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Your health - How to prevent falls
Stuart News - 8/23/2017
As we get older, falls can be a very serious health risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one-third of those who are age 65 and older fall each year.
Falls, and the injuries they cause, can severely limit a person's independence and also represent a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the older population.
A fall can be the result of many factors, so it's important for an individual who has a history of falling to be evaluated by his or her physician. This will help identify the cause of the falls and the steps needed to prevent or reduce the risk of falls in the future.
Preventing falls involves reducing potential hazards in your home and daily routines. These may include:
â€¢ Wearing flat, rubber shoes or using an ambulatory device such as a cane or walker. Don't go barefoot inside or outside of the house.
â€¢ Getting up slowly and near a support when trying to stand. Don't move until you are able to maintain your balance.
â€¢ Maintaining clear walkways in your home. Clear away any clutter and objects on the floor or electrical cords that may get in your way. Remove throw rugs or small area rugs.
â€¢ Using a nonslip mat in the tub or shower in your bathroom. Grab bars are very helpful next to the tub and toilet, and a shower chair is an excellent assistive device as well.
â€¢ Making sure any stairways you use are also free of clutter and that you have sturdy handrails on both sides. Good light is also important when navigating stairs and other areas where falling is a concern.
Surprisingly, many people who have a fall don't report it to their primary care physician. This is a big mistake.
In addition to helping you uncover the cause of your falls, your doctor can review your prescriptions and over-the-counter medications with you.
Some medications can cause low blood pressure, dizziness or hypoglycemia that can place you at risk for falls.
Whether or not you have experienced a fall, if you are age 65 or older, consider these steps to prevent falls in your later years:
â€¢ Have your vision checked at least once a year and update your eyeglasses when needed.
â€¢ Check your Vitamin D level, as low levels may negatively affect bone health and as a result, increase your risk of falling.
â€¢ Maintain your strength, coordination and balance by exercising regularly. Your goal should be 30 minutes of exercise, 4-5 times per week. Many types of activities such as dancing or Tai chi may also help as they can improve balance.
The primary care doctors with Martin Health Physician Group can help evaluate your risk of falling. To find a physician, visit martinhealth.org/adult-primary-care-physicians.
Josue Limage, MD
Martin Health Physician Group