It’s no surprise that the likelihood and frequency of falling grow as we age. There are many reasons for this, and it is simply part of the natural progression of our physical capabilities. Unfortunately, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of five falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones or a head injury. Of course, there is much you can do to reduce your chances of falling, and the first is simply to be conscious of your surroundings and be thoughtful about your actions.
It is critically important to pay attention to risk factors including everything from changes in personal health to your physical environment. Many conditions contribute to falling, and you can learn to avoid them pretty quickly. See below for a list of common causes for falls and take steps to avoid them.
- Vision Impairment – If you are having difficulty seeing or if your vision is blurry, take action to remedy the issue as quickly as possible. Wearing prescribed glasses for enhancing vision is recommended.
- Foot Pain – Foot pain tends to make people favor one foot or the other and therefore changes their normal stride. This routine can easily throw you off balance so you may want to use a walking stick if this is an issue. It’s also important to wear comfortable, supportive, non-slips shoes to increase your stability.
- Walking & Balance – Should you experience issues with balance contact a healthcare professional immediately to discuss it and find out if there is something that can be done to improve this condition, which is one of the most likely risk factors that can lead to falls.
- Environmental hazards – your surroundings can present a high risk that you need to be continually aware of while out in public, at a friend or family member’s house, or even in your home. Dangers such as broken or uneven steps, throw rugs or clutter are very common causes of tripping and falling. Consider adding new additions such as handrails along stairs or in the bathroom, or brighter lights throughout the home.
- Loss of Overall Strength – As you go about your routine each day take a moment to notice things that are becoming harder to you over time. If you experience a decrease in strength, particularly in your lower body, you may want to make accommodations to help alleviate concerns of falling such as using a walking stick or walker.
- Medications – the use of certain medicines can significantly affect balance and how steady you are on your feet. You should always read the side effects of medications you are taking and discuss them with your physician. Keep track carefully of all medications you are taking and when particularly if it is something that is uncommon for you.
- Surgeries & Diseases — many of the health conditions that plague seniors cause weakness in the extremities, grip strength, balance disorders and cognitive impairment. Similarly, operations can leave an older adult weak, in pain and discomfort and less mobile than they were before the surgery. Use extra caution in these situations.