No matter your age, falling can be scary. But for those 65 and older, falling can cause serious injury. These injuries can affect a person’s mobility, daily life or even her ability to live independently.
If you’ve fallen once, statistics show that your chance of falling again doubles. The good news? Falls can be prevented. There are several risk factors for falling, but many of these risk factors can be changed or modified to prevent falls. Here are a few ways to reduce your risk:
- Exercise. Failure to exercise results in poor muscle tone, decreased bone mass, loss of balance, and reduced flexibility. Do exercises that make your legs stronger and improve your balance, such as Tai Chi. Many people who have fallen before, even if they weren’t injured, become afraid of falling again and therefore limit their physical activity. However, being less active actually increases your chances of falling.
- Take care of your eyesight. Make sure to get an annual eye exam. Not only will the doctor check your prescription, but she will examine you for age-related vision diseases. If you have bifocal or progressive lenses, consider getting a pair of glasses with only your distance prescription for outdoor activities; bifocals or progressive lenses can make objects appear closer or farther away than they really are.
- Ask your doctor to review your medicines. Medicines such as tranquilizers, sedatives or antidepressants, even some over-the-counter medicines, can make you dizzy or sleepy.
- Remove any home hazards or dangers, such as slippery rugs, excess clutter or dim lighting.
Woman’s is now offering Fall Prevention Group Training, a four-week structured class for older women who have a fear of falling and/or a history of falling. Exercises will address the three sensory systems that are involved in maintaining balance:
- The visual system (eyes) allows you to perceive directions and motions.
- The vestibular system (inner ear) monitors motion and guides you on which way is up.
- The somatosensory system guides you on where you are in space – where your feet will land with each step.
To register for Woman’s Fall Prevention Group Training, click here.