According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year, one in every three adults age 65 and older falls but less than half talk to their doctors about it. Falls can cause moderate to severe injuries, such as hip fractures and head injuries, and can increase the risk of early death. In 2010, 2.3 million nonfatal fall injuries among older adults were treated in emergency departments and more than 662,000 of these patients were hospitalized.
1. Exercise regularly. It is important that the exercises focus on increasing leg strength and improving balance, and that they get more challenging over time. Tai Chi programs are especially good.
2. Ask doctor or pharmacist to review medicines. Both prescription and over-the counter medications need to be identified for side effects or interactions such as dizziness or drowsiness.
3. Have an eye exam at least once a year. Also update eyeglasses to maximize vision and consider getting a pair with single vision distance lenses for activities such as walking outside.
4. Evaluate home safety. Make homes safer by reducing tripping hazards, like throw rugs, adding grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower and next to the toilet, adding railings on both sides of stairways and improving the lighting in homes.
5. If you do fall, lower your risk of hip fracture. Get adequate calcium and vitamin D, do weight bearing exercise, and get screened regularly for osteoporosis.