Unfortunately, as people age, the risk of falling increases. According to the National Council on Aging, each year, one-third of seniors over the age of 65 falls. In the older population, falls are the No. 1 cause of injuries, resulting in over 2.8 million ER-treated injuries, 800,000+ hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths. That’s why falls prevention is so important for seniors.
The Causes of Falls
Falls don’t just happen because you’re older. While safety hazards, like clutter on the floor, loose rugs, or the lack of railings or grab bars, can account for many types of falls. Often, as you age, physical or medical factors can make you more susceptible to falling. The more of these factors you have, your risk for falls increases.
Some physical or medical causes of falls, as you age, include:
- Muscle weakness, especially in the legs, and loss of stamina.
- Poor balance or difficulty walking, which may be caused by neurological disorders, arthritis, or other medical conditions and their treatments.
- Drops in blood pressure when you rise from a chair or bed, which could be linked to diabetes, neurological conditions or an infection.
- Slower reflexes which make it more difficult to catch your balance if you start to fall.
- Painful foot problems, like bunions, hammertoes, or deformities due to rheumatoid arthritis and gout, that alter the way you walk.
- Sensory problems, like numbness in the feet, that make you less aware of your environment.
- Vision problems, like poor depth perception, poor vision due to changes from light to darkness, cataracts, and glaucoma.
- Medications that cause side effects like dizziness or confusion.
Falls Prevention Steps
Many older adults are afraid of falling and the consequences of a fall, like a broken bone, a hospital admission, or even death. This fear can cause older people to stop doing things like walking, shopping, or participating in social activities.
If you’re worried about falling, breaking a hip and losing your independence, here are some falls prevention steps you can take:
- Talk to your doctor about medications that make you dizzy or confused. Your doctor may be able to prescribe a medication with less side effects.
- Take all of your medications as prescribed. Skipping doses may cause dizziness or confusion.
- Don’t get up quickly from a sitting or lying position. Also move more slowly until you gain your balance.
- Stay active every day. A lack of exercise can cause decreased bone and muscle strength as well as less balance and coordination.
- Lift weights and use resistance training to strengthen your muscles.
- Improve your balance by practicing yoga or Tai Chi.
- Work with a physical therapist to improve your balance and gait or how you walk.
- Talk to your doctor about treatments for painful foot conditions. Or, wear ezWalker® Custom Fit Orthotics in your shoes to realign your gait for better control throughout the gait cycle. ezWalker® Custom Orthotics also will provide you with greater stability and balance to reduce your risk of falls while providing foot pain relief. Visit the WalkEZStore.com for more information, or to order your pair of ezWalker® Performance Custom Orthotics. If you have questions about how custom orthotics can help you, contact Kathy Carandang, a certified pedorthist and the founder of the WalkEZStore. She’ll be happy to answer your questions.
- Wear sensible, low-heeled shoes that fit well and provide your feet with good support. Make sure your shoes have nonskid soles.
- Have your eyes checked regularly. Wear your glasses.
- Eat a balanced diet that includes protein to build muscles and dairy products with calcium and vitamin D to maintain healthy bones.
By taking falls prevention steps now – no matter what your age is currently, you can help maintain or increase your muscle strength, balance and coordination. So you can hopefully prevent future falls.
ezWalker Custom Fit Orthotics – Because … when your feet feel good, you feel good.®
And when you have added stability, you can stay on your feet – not on the floor.
Do you ever wonder what your feet might be trying to tell you? Get a copy of our FREE guide, “10 Things Your Feet Are Desperately Trying to Tell You,” to find out by clicking here.
Disclaimer: The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Cover photo credit: 123RF / Akhararat Wathanasing