With each passing year of life, not much changes in the way that you feel about who you are. Many seniors report feeling like their 20-year-old-self regardless of the changes happening to their bodies. And in many ways, age really is just a state of mind. That’s why it can be so challenging to accept some of the physical restrictions that hit us with age.
There are many reasons why people experience more falls with age, and the danger is not in the accident itself; the danger is in the recovery. While it has been reported by the Centers for Disease Control that 1 in 3 Americans over the age of 65 experiences a fall each year, a lesser known fact is that “falls are the leading cause of injury and death in older Americans.”
Falls are no joke.
Why Older Americans Fall More
It’s not as though all of a sudden you celebrate your 65th birthday and then are more prone to falling. There are age-related health issues that evolve slowly over time, many of which can contribute to senior falls. The National Institutes of Health have identified some risk factors of senior falls, which include:
- Changes in Balance. Whether due to a lack of exercise, neurological problems, or other medical conditions, your balance and center of gravity can change as you age. When balance becomes poor, falls are more likely to occur.
- Muscle Loss. Both muscle and bone density lessen with age and can lead to senior falls. In part due to lack of exercise--or a lack of integrating strength training into your workout routine--or due to hormonal changes that older women experience in menopause, the loss of muscle and bone density can greatly increase your risk of falling with age.
- Loss of Vision. Loss of vision can occur at any age, although it is not uncommon to notice a recognizable difference in your eye sight as you age. Many people begin to lose sharp focus in dim light or in darkness, which can lead to more falls occurring at night.
- Medication Management. For various reasons, you are more likely to be taking regular prescription medications as you increase in age than when you are younger. Sometimes a dangerous side effect of a new medication, or mixing certain medications, can be a sense of imbalance or dizziness and an increase your risk of falling.
These risks have very real results. The CDC found that in 2014 alone, “older Americans experienced 29 million falls causing seven million injuries and costing an estimated $31 billion in annual Medicare costs.” But while you can’t stop yourself from growing older, you can take definitive steps to help prevent falls from occurring.
Senior Fall Prevention
Aside from regular visits to your physician where you can be honest with them about any health-related changes that are happening to your body (including any side effects from medications), you can help prevent senior falls in the following ways:
- See Specialists. In addition to checkups with your General Practitioner, be sure to schedule regular visits to specialists should you need it. That includes the eye doctor, a neurologist, or any other relevant physicians should you notice changes in the way your body feels.
- Change Your Exercise Routine. Of course, that means that if you currently do not exercise at all, you should start. And if you already have a regular exercise routine, be sure to incorporate strength training to help combat muscle loss. It’s also recommended to add balance-based exercises to the mix, such as yoga, tai chi, or pilates. Strengthening your core and your legs can aid in senior fall prevention.
- Invest in Medical Alert Systems. Contrary to popular belief, medical alert systems, like the ones we provide here at Medical Guardian, are not just for those who are immobile or home-bound. Medical alert systems are an affordable solution to how you think about falls, both inside and outside of the house. While they can’t prevent you from falling, they can greatly reduce your risk of fatal injury after a fall has occurred, as they can connect you directly to a line to help within moments of experiencing a fall.
- Make Changes In Your Home. NIH estimates that 6 out of 10 falls occur within the home, “where we spend much of our time and tend to move around without thinking about our safety.” As you age, there are changes you can make around the house to help encourage senior fall prevention, including getting rid of clutter, taping down rugs that tend to buckle, and improving the lighting by installing brighter bulbs or nightlights.
Help at the Push of a Button
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