A fall is serious no matter what your age, but once you are past 65, the dangers increase. One out of three persons over the age of 65 falls.
After a serious fall, older people can suffer post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from concern about falling again and this can result in anxiety and depression – even delirium and dementia. While only 10 per cent will have serious physical injuries from a ground level fall, a broken bone can lead to hospital stays where you are in danger of picking up some secondary, hospital–related condition – anything from sepsis to C. difficile to urinary tract infections, all common in a hospital setting.
Falls can also result in unseen internal injury that can damage internal organs, internal bleeding and even a splenic rupture. If you fall, be sure the doctor gives you a thorough examination and watch for secondary symptoms after you go home.
So, just don’t fall.
While it may seem counter-intuitive, staying active is the best advice. Going to a gym where you can work out with other people provides an opportunity to socialize at the same time as you are getting the exercise you need to keep your body healthy and your osteoarthritis from becoming too painful. Exercise strengthens your muscles and bones and helps to keep your joints flexible. The first time out, it may hurt for a little while, but as you move, the pain is reduced. Gentle stretching at the beginning and end of exercise will also help. Building strength helps to maintain balance. Balancing exercises help even more.
Watch out for trip traps
Every house has them: places where it is easy to trip and fall; loose scatter rugs, uneven surfaces transitioning from one room to another, furniture you have to manoeuvre around; slippery surfaces, slippery bathtubs. Take a tour and decide to deal with these hazards today. Don’t forget to include your front and back entrances or the stairs to your garage. These trip taps can occur anywhere. You probably already know where most of them are because chances are you have saved yourself more than once at these spots
Shoes and do’s
Do take a look at your favourite pair of slippers. Are they easy to put on and easy to slip off? If so, they are probably easy to slip on – meaning, you can slip on them! Replace them with some snugger fitting wear – with backs. Yes, you may have to bend over to get them on, but that’s just more good exercise and stretching you should be dong anyway.
Outdoor shoes should have non-slip soles. That doesn’t mean you need to abandon the high heels for a special night out, but everyday use requires some common sense foot wear. Running shoes are comfortable and trustworthy.
Lighting and vision
Sometimes we trip because we can’t see where we are going. Make sure you have the right glasses and if the fancy trifocals don’t work for you, get something that will.
Be sure stairs are well lit and use the lights. We all too often think we know where everything is so why turn on the lights? But where one misstep can spell disaster, why take the chance?
We hate to admit, but as we age, some things don’t work as well as they used to. So make sure you are protecting yourself as best you can. Chances are you should be taking a vitamin D supplement in the winter – ask your doc – and if you are having balance problems ask him to check your B vitamins. Too little or too much can both cause balance issues.