Do you know what the most common fear is among seniors? It’s not experiencing crime or health problems. It’s a fear of falling. This fear can make a senior’s life difficult, but many falls are actually avoidable. Assess your risk factors for falling, and learn how to avoid a serious spill.
Did you know that a senior falls every single second in the United States? That adds up to 38 million falls every year! No wonder one in ten seniors report having a serious fear of falling. Sadly, while falls are something seniors should definitely take seriously, the fear of falling can also have a negative impact on a senior’s life. Those who fear falling avoid exercise and physical activities, which can lead to health issues and social isolation. Ironically, trying to avoid the health consequences of a serious fall can lead to more problems for seniors than addressing the risk head-on.
There’s a better way to deal with your fear of falling. Instead of worrying, be proactive and identify your risk factors for falling, and then do what you can to lower your risk. With a little bit of thought and care, you can still lead a full and active life.
Risk Factors for Falling
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracks senior fall statistics, including their causes, as a part of their initiative for preventing falls. Here are the risk factors for falling that they recommend seniors pay attention to:
This may seem self-explanatory, but if you have issues with balance, you are at additional risk for a serious fall. There are many reasons that seniors can have balance issues, ranging from vertigo to hip and joint pain. If you have difficulties with balance, or suspect that you do, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about your individual fall risk and how to mitigate it.
Other Health Issues
You may not be aware of the other health conditions that can create fall risks. One is a lack of strength in the lower body, especially in the legs, which can make it hard to stay upright if you stumble. There are also medications like antidepressants or over-the-counter allergy medications that can affect your balance. Even something like poor vision can present a fall risk for some seniors. Be sure that you are paying attention to things like medication side effects, and have your vision and hearing tested at least once a year. Regular exercise is also a great way to improve your balance and strength, so make that a part of your daily routine if you have not already.
Six out of every ten falls happen at home, so it’s a good idea to consider the fall risk your house might be creating for you. Do you have a lot of furniture crowding the floorplan of your home? Are there rugs or other items that could cause a trip or a slip? No matter how well you know your home, lots of objects can create a fall risk. On the other side of things, there are items that may be missing from your home that can help you avoid a fall, like sturdy railings or a shower stool. Use this checklist from the National Institute on Aging to assess your home’s environment for fall risks, and see what changes you can make.
It’s important to know your risk factors for falling so you can keep yourself safe. However, don’t stop there. Talk to a trusted medical professional about what you learn, and make a plan to reduce your fall risk.
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