Your first steps in avoiding brain trauma are to get a check-up from your doctor, and then take a close look at your home. Below are the things you need to evaluate in order to lower your risk of falling. In this way, you can reduce your risk of brain trauma and a major cause of dementia.
Check Your Physical Health
Get your eyes checked - Ignoring vision problems could put you at increased risk of tripping and falling, or banging your head on something you did not see because of limited peripheral vision.
Get treated for episodes of vertigo - Some medications may cause vertigo or dizziness. It can also be caused by vision problems and other health conditions. Discuss these episodes with your physician, especially if they have caused you to fall or nearly fall.
Ask your doctor about medication related health problems - In addition to vertigo, some medications may cause sleepiness, nausea, sleep walking, sudden drops in blood pressure, muscle weakness, dehydration, and other conditions which could make you more prone to falling. If a medication is causing uncomfortable side effects, check with your doctor to see if it can be changed.
Take a fall prevention class - Weak muscles and poor balance can often be improved when seniors take classes designed to improve their sense of balance. People who have strong muscles are also more likely to be able to catch themselves when they stumble, thereby preventing a fall. Many senior centers and city recreation departments offer these types of classes for senior citizens. Not only could a class like this prevent brain trauma, it could also protect you from breaking a hip or other bone.
Get regular exercise - In addition to a fall prevention class, it is important that you walk regularly, and get other forms of exercise, including strength and flexibility training. Being strong and flexible will also help you stay on your feet when you trip. Practice lifting your feet a little when you walk. One cause of tripping is the tendency to barely lift our feet above the surface as we age. This can cause us to trip over even tiny imperfections in a sidewalk or other surface.
Wear the right shoes - If you have neuropathy in your feet, it could lead to a fall. Talk to your doctor about any possible causes or treatments for your neuropathy. Other foot problems, including wearing the wrong shoes, could also cause you problems. One precaution you can take is to wear suitable shoes which are non-skid, rubber-soled, low-heeled and lace-up. Make sure they fully support your feet.
Use recommended walking devices - Whether your physician suggests you use a cane or a walker, it is important to take advantage of these tools. Many people fall because they are too proud to let others see them use one of these devices. However, it is better to lose your pride, than fall and damage your brain, hip or other part of your body.
Check Your Home for Hazards
Once you know that you have done as much as possible to maintain your physical health, you then need to make sure your home is safe. Look around carefully and ask yourself the following questions as you walk around.
Throughout your home - Are the main areas of your home free from extension cords and rugs which could trip you? Are the rooms well lit? Is it easy to find the light switch if you enter a room after dark?
Kitchen - Can you reach your dishes and other items you use regularly without standing on a stool? If you ever need to use a stool to stand on, do you have a sturdy one which is safe and solid?
Bedroom - Are your phone, lamp and alarm clock easy to reach so you do not have to jump out of bed in the dark? Do you have a nightlight which makes it easier to find your way to the bathroom in the dark?
Bathroom - Does your bathtub or shower have a non-skid surface, or have you added a mat, non-skid decals or abrasive strips so you are less likely to slip in the shower? Do you have sturdy grab bars in the shower and near the toilet? Do you have a non-skid bathroom floor which does not get slippery when wet?
Stairs - Do you have light switches at both the top and bottom of the stairs? Can you clearly see the outline of the steps so you are less likely to miss one? Do the stairs have sturdy handrails on each side? Are the steps in good repair without holes, uneven treads, or loose covering? Do you have access to a chair lift if the stairs become too much for you to handle?
Entrances - Are the entrances to your homes well lit so no one needs to approach in the dark? You may want to consider having a motion detector attached to the outdoor lights in both the front and back of your home. The light will come on as soon as someone approaches the door. This will make it safer for both you and your guests. In addition, are the stairs and sidewalks approaching your door in good repair, with no uneven surfaces or broken stones?
In Case of a Fall
If, despite your best efforts, you still fall, getting medical attention quickly can help limit the damage you have done. If you hit your head, do not got to bed without being checked by a doctor first, especially if you are knocked unconscious or you are dizzy or have a headache after the fall. Have someone drive you to the emergency room or an urgent care center, if there is any risk that you may have a concussion.
Whenever you are home by yourself, it may be wise to constantly carry a cell phone in your pocket during the day, and keep it on your nightstand at night, or you may consider getting a medical alert pendant with fall monitoring. (Ad) These pendants enable you to push a button and be put in touch with an operator who can call a neighbor, a family member, or the paramedics, depending on your need. Some devices can even automatically detect when you fall and, if you do not get up in a short period of time, it will place a call for you. A device like this could save your life and should be seriously considered by anyone who lives alone.
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