The CDC reports that there were more than 2 million falls among older adults in 2012 who were treated at a hospital. More than 770,000 of them stayed overnight in the hospital. Also, falls are the top cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries among senior citizens.
About 60% of falls happen at home, and most common injuries are hip and spine fractures, and head injuries. Many seniors who fall do not want to tell their families; they may be embarrassed or are afraid they could lose their independence.
If you or a loved one is getting older and has a higher risk of falling, you should discuss the issue of falls with a doctor. Many physicians say that one of the most common risks is the side effects of medications. For example, some anti-anxiety drugs can slow our ability to react if we get off balance and may fall. Other drugs that help depression or hypertension also may create fall risks.
It also is important to maintain healthy blood sugar levels so that you do not get blurred vision or weakness.
Other risk factors of falls include:
- Muscle and joint pain
- Poor vision
- Cardiovascular problems
- Sleep apnea,which can cause cognitive impairment
To help to lower risk of a fall, weight-bearing exercises such as walking can strengthen bones and improve balance. Also, tai chi is a great way for an older adult to boost strength and flexibility.
Be sure to discuss all medications and other risk factors with your doctor to minimize the chance of you or your loved one from falling.
And remember, a good cane can be very helpful to keep your balance and prevent nasty falls. One of our best products is the In-Step LaserCane, which features a laser light that is particularly useful for people with Parkinson's disease, stroke or ataxia.