Researchers have studied this problem extensively and they have discovered that certain programs are effective in preventing falls. However, there is virtually no government support for these programs, which means they are not always available in the communities where they are needed. When they are available, the programs are usually sponsored by local hospitals, community groups and agencies.
Even if you do not believe you are at risk of falling, accidents can happen to anyone. In addition, you may have a spouse or other family member who could be injured from a fall. Everyone should be aware of the causes and how to reduce the risk.
Why Senior Citizens Fall
There are a number of reasons why people fall, regardless of their age ... although the problems associated with falling are more serious in senior citizens. Some of the more common causes are:
Diabetes - Particularly for those who suffer from Neuropathy
Illnesses that cause patients to feel weak, dizzy or shaky
Medications - People should be especially concerned about sleeping medications or those that lower blood pressure or cause dizziness
How to Prevent Falls
Fortunately, there are steps everyone can take to dramatically lower their risk of falling. Below are some suggestions you can implement yourself.
Attend the CDC program called "Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths & Injuries" (STEADI). Contact your local hospital or senior center to see when a class will be held in your community.
Attend a Balance Training Program. Many senior centers and communities offer separate balance classes or include balance training in their yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates, dance and other exercise classes for seniors.
Practice balance exercises at home including:
* Standing on one leg for 30 seconds at a time
* Walk heel to toe along a straight line on the floor
* Practice sitting and standing from a chair to build leg and core muscle strength
Eliminate or avoid danger zones in your home, especially:
* Potentially icy areas outside your home in cold weather
* Anything in your home or yard that could trip you -- wires, plants, furniture legs, etc.
* Loose rugs or carpeting
* Slippery floors like polished hardwood or wet floors in the bathroom and kitchen
Other ways to reduce falls include:
* Installing grab bars in your shower or around your bathtub.
* Giving up your high heels.
* Having someone move items from high shelves and placing them where they are within easy reach.
* Avoiding risky behaviors such as climbing on ladders or standing on chairs to reach high items.
Finally, watch your medications and read the package inserts. Pay close attention to the possibility of falling because of the prescription drugs you are taking. Many medications can lower your blood pressure and make you dizzy, especially when you first get out of bed in the morning or get up from a chair. Take things slowly and make sure you feel OK before making any sudden moves. Talk to your doctor about your dosage levels or ask about alternative medications if one you are taking seems to make you especially dizzy.
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