September 23rd is National Fall Prevention Awareness Day. Every year, one in every three seniors over the age of 65 falls, and the risk of falls increases each year as older adults age. By age 80, more than half of all seniors fall annually. Additionally, the risk of falling is greater for women than men.
Falls can often lead to:
- Injuries and fractures – In elderly individuals who are 85+ years, one fall in 10 results in a hip fracture. 25% of seniors with hip fractures die within 6 months of their injury.
- Lengthy hospital stays.
- Painful rehabilitation.
- Loss of independent living, requiring seniors to move into an assisted living facility or nursing home.
- Reduced quality of life.
Factors Leading to Increased Falls
There are many reasons why seniors are at a greater risk of falling. As we get older, our senses, reflexes and coordination aren’t as good as they were when we were younger. Various medical conditions, such as stroke, heart disease or heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, arthritis, vision problems, low blood pressure, and mental confusion, can increase your risk. These conditions can cause a variety of symptoms, like dizziness, muscle weakness, balance problems, sensory imbalances, neuropathy, joint inflexibility, and fatigue, which can affect your strength, balance, and gait cycle when standing or walking. Plus medications for these and other medical conditions can affect your balance.
Additionally, seniors with painful foot conditions, such as corns, bunions, hammertoes, and Morton’s Neuroma, may have difficulty maintaining balance, coordination, and stability when standing or walking.
Fortunately, there are steps that older adults can take to lower their risk of falls and maintain their health and independence. Some ideas include:
- Talk with your doctor about reducing the number and dosage of your medications.
- Get your bone density tested. Your doctor may prescribe medications or calcium and vitamin D supplements to make your bones stronger to prevent breaks.
- Get regular exercise, so you can:
- Get stronger by increasing your strength and stamina.
- Keep your joints, tendons, and ligaments flexible.
- Improve your reflexes.
- Develop a stronger, smoother gait.
- Reduce pain in your joints and muscles.
- Improve your mobility and balance.
- Avoid drinking alcohol which can affect your senses and balance.
- Wear low-heeled (not more than an inch and a half in height) shoes with non-skid soles.
- Reduce foot pain from common foot conditions by wearing custom orthotics like ezWalker® Performance Insoles. The ezWalker® Insole is customized for each of your feet using our unique 7-step custom-impression process, so your weight is evenly redistributed on your feet, and your arches receive the proper support they need. The ezWalker® guides your feet into better alignment and provides you with greater stability and balance.
- Be careful walking around pets.
- Reduce clutter especially on floors.
- Tack down or secure carpets, or use non-skid rugs.
- Clean up spills and food dropped on floors immediately.
- Make sure your home is well lit, especially on stairwells. Install nightlights or motion-sensing lights, so you’ll be able to see when walking during the night.
- Install handrails on all stairways and use them when walking up and down stairs.
- Don’t stand on a chair to reach items. Use a “grabbing device” instead.
- Avoid using floor polish or wax on your floors to reduce slick surfaces.
- Sleep on a bed that is easy to get into and out of. Avoid beds that are too low or high.
- Install strong grab bars on the walls around the bathtub and beside the toilet. Make sure they are securely mounted into the studs for maximum strength and safety.
- Keep outdoor sidewalks clear of clutter, rocks, snow or ice.
- Avoid going out in bad weather if possible.
- Repair cracks or uneven surfaces on sidewalks and driveways.
By being more aware of hazards around your home and by making informed choices about medications, exercise, footwear, your health, and the safety of your surroundings, you can prevent falls from occurring – helping you to maintain an independent lifestyle.
For more information and to see what others are saying about ezWalker® Performance Insoles, visit the WalkEzStore. ezWalker insoles are ultra-thin and ¾ length so they will fit in a wide variety of footwear. We also offer a 90-day money-back guarantee, so you have nothing to lose but your foot pain. Try them today!
Remember… when your feet feel good, you feel good.