Your Most Dangerous Pathway

Many older adults limit their movement because of a fear a falling.  It’s understandable that falling is a huge worry–an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall every 11 seconds (2.8 million ER visits a year), and one dies from a fall every 19 seconds.  Broken bones, especially hips, lead to immobility and relocation to a skilled nursing facility—a one-way trip for many.  In fact, 80% of all fall victims will not return to their previous health and activity levels.

Falls are not an inevitable part of aging.

If you can guess the two rooms in your home where you’re most likely to fall, you can then conclude the most treacherous trip you take, several times a day!  That’s right, it’s the bedroom and bathroom!    Statistically you’re most likely to fall in these two rooms, and in the pathway between them.

Armed with this knowledge, here are some precautions you can take to increase your chances of staying upright and fall-proof your home:

1)  Get rid of unsafe shoes, especially slippers and flip flops.  These are difficult to keep on your feet, impossible to move quickly in, and they’re just unsafe when seniors begin to “shuffle.”

2)  Illuminate the pathway between your bedroom and bathroom.  Many nightlights are now motion-activated and don’t disturb sleep.

3)  Throw away area rugs and remove electrical cords from the area.

4)  Evaluate floor surfaces carefully.  A change in height, let’s say from tile to carpeting, of more than 1/4” is a fall risk.

5)  Be very careful when lowering yourself down onto the toilet; this is actually the activity in which you are most likely to fall in the bathroom.  Have safety bars/hand rails installed if possible.

6)  The American Optometric Association recommends yearly eye exams once people reach age 60.    Furthermore, studies show a correlation between hearing loss and balance problems with aging.  Hearing should be checked by an audiologist if there seems to be an issue in this area.

7)  Have your doctor or pharmacist assess how your medications increase fall risk; is there a similar product that doesn’t have this side effect?  The most common culprits:  antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, prescription antihistamines, blood pressure and heart medications, pain relievers (especially narcotics), and sleep aids, both over-the-counter and prescription.

8)  Get as much sleep as you can.

9)  Watch alcohol intake.  It can affect both balance and quality of sleep.

And finally, stay in shape.  Older adults who fall are most often de-conditioned in terms of core, quad (thigh), and glute (your buns) strength.

For information on fall prevention strategies, give me a call!

We can discuss some practical tips and discover if any of my programs or classes are a good fit for you.
If you’d like to schedule that call with me, just CLICK THIS LINK, and let me know in the message that you would like a 1-on-1 call with me right away and I will be in touch to schedule that – oh, and leave me your phone number in there too since email is not as reliable as it used to be! Thanks.

Lisa Teresi Harris is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Personal Trainer and author of the book Building Your Enduring Fitness.  A certified Geri-Fit Instructor, she helps Boomers and seniors to regain and keep muscle strength, mobility, and energy.
Contact Lisa to inquire about a customized, in-home fitness program for you or a loved one.

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