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September 13, 2018
One in four seniors experience a fall each year. And every 11 seconds a senior is treated for fall- related injuries. While it’s true that falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries in adults over 65, that doesn’t mean they are a natural, unavoidable part of aging. In fact, believing falls are just a natural part of getting older actually puts seniors at great risk for falls.
As we age, our strength, balance and agility naturally decline. While this puts seniors at great risk of experiencing a potentially damaging fall, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to prevent a fall from happening.
Here are some common myths about falls seniors should be aware of:
Myth #1: I’m very active, therefore I don’t need to worry about falls. While staying active can help improve strength and balance, making you less prone to falls, it doesn’t completely eliminate your risk. No matter how active you are, it’s important to take preventative measures against falls. Avoid activities that require ladders or step stools. Use handrails when going up or down stairs. Install safety grab bars around tubs and showers. These small adjustments, in addition to maintaining an active lifestyle, can greatly reduce your risk for a potentially damaging fall.
Myth #2: I don’t move around much, which helps me avoid risk, therefore I don’t need to worry about falls. Conversely, some seniors believe leading a sedentary lifestyle will keep them safer. In reality, this puts seniors at greater risk for falls as leading an inactive lifestyle contributes to decreases in overall strength and balance. Over time, this can make even simple tasks, like getting up from a chair or getting in and out of the shower more difficult, putting you at greater risk of an injury.
Myth #3: My doctor wouldn’t prescribe me anything that could contribute to a fall. Many commonly prescribed medications for things like diabetes, hypertension and more may cause side effects such as dizziness, which can increase the risk for a fall. Be sure to discuss potential side effects of any newly prescribed medications with your doctor. If you experience side effects such as dizziness or weakness, be sure to speak with your doctor right away.
Myth #4: I stay home, so I’m at less risk for experiencing a fall. Nearly half of all falls happen at home. That’s why for seniors, particularly those who live alone, fall prevention must start in the home. Make sure walking areas are free of clutter or furniture and either remove rugs or make sure they are secure to the ground. Install safety bars and railings around tubs, showers and in stairways. Keep everyday items well within reach and ask for help getting items down from high shelves, basements or attics. Additionally, avoid chores that involve standing on a ladder, chair or stool.
Myth #5: There’s no reason to worry about a minor slip or fall. Seniors who experience a minor fall, or even a minor slip, are more likely to experience another fall in the future. It’s important to talk to your doctor and loved ones about even minor slips or falls. They can help you take greater preventative measures to avoid a potential incident in the future. Or, they can help you evaluate whether you could benefit from a few lifestyle changes, such as moving to a single level home, apartment or senior living community.
At Episcopal SeniorLife Communities, we ensure every resident has access to the amenities they need to lead an active, healthy, happy lifestyle, including wellness programs and nutritious dining options. Additionally, our Neighborhood Programs offer exercise, friendship and fun to all seniors in the area, not just ESLC residents. Ready to learn more? Contact us today to take a tour.