36 million Americans over 65 fall each year, resulting in 32,000 deaths, reports the CDC.
That makes falls the leading cause of injury and injury-related death among that age group.
But most falls are preventable!
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you learned about our “Safe Balance Program,” which assesses your major fall risks and gives you solutions for minimizing those risks.
But what if you want to lead a general lifestyle that minimizes your risk of falling? Just like any other health risk, you have many lifestyle changes you can make to nearly eliminate your risk of falling.
Here’s what you can do:
1. Maintain Your Physical Fitness
It’s easy to get comfortable in your routine and become less active as you age. No matter how tempting that might be, however, you need to somehow do what you can to stay physically fit.
You should aim for 150 minutes of moderate physical activity. And you should do exercises to increase your strength (note that this doesn’t mean weightlifting necessarily).
Of course, you should only do so with the blessing of your doctor. You don’t want to do something your body isn’t ready for and cause yourself a serious injury!
2. Keep Your Vision in Check
Even if you’re in good physical condition for your age, it doesn’t do you any good if you have difficulty seeing where you’re going.
If you’re between 55-64, you should get an eye exam every 1-3 years. If you’re 65+, make it happen every 1-2 years.
And if your eye doctor tells you to wear glasses, follow their recommendation!
3. Talk About Your Medications
The Merck Manual, the go-to for medical information, says the average senior takes five medications.
Those medications can have powerful side-effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, and low blood pressure, all of which increase your risk of falling.
Add to that any over-the-counter medications or natural supplements, and you can have a real recipe for disaster!
Make sure you have a single go-to physician who knows all the prescriptions, natural supplements, and over-the-counter medications you take. That way, they can warn you about the possible risk any could contribute to falling.
4. Chronic Health Conditions
Peripheral neuropathy, often a result of diabetes, can make your feet numb, making it difficult to get around safely.
Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and arthritis can make it more challenging to grip railings or even just keep your balance.
Make sure you stay aware of how any of these affect you at any given moment. And talk to your doctor if you notice any serious changes.
It’s a challenge to minimize your risk of falling. But you can do it with a regular self-inventory and discussion with your doctor so that your golden years truly are just that.
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