2.5 million individuals over the age of 65 are treated in emergency rooms each year for fall-related injuries, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
As we age there is a steady and consistent increase in accidental deaths as a result of falling. Some of the more common causes of falls include vision problems, foot pain, lower extremity weakness, medications, and poor shoe gear.
A few simple steps can be taken to prevent these unfortunate events:
- Remove obstacles and hazards. Avoid having electrical cords crossing walkways, secure all loose rugs, remove newspapers or other debris from the floor, and repair loose or prominent floorboards.
- Promptly clean all liquid spills and place slip-resistant mats in bathrooms or showers.
- Check with your doctor if any change in medication has made you feel dizzy or weak. Increasing blood pressure medications can lead to dizziness and loss of consciousness as you stand up. Your doctor may recommend the use of a cane or other assistive devices depending on your symptoms.
- Wear appropriate shoes. The use of loose-fitting slippers, high heels, or slick soles can cause falls. Those of us who mostly wear socks around the house are also at risk for falls on slick surfaces. Wearing a wide, thick, non-skid sole outdoors in the winter will cut down on slips and falls on ice and snow.
- Stay active. Going on walks daily will not only increase your muscle strength but, improve your proprioception and balance. Community fitness centers offer a variety of classes from water aerobics to spinning to help maintain an active lifestyle.
- Check with your podiatrist if you are experiencing foot pain or weakness which is limiting your ability to walk. Many common causes of foot pain are easily correctable in a few office visits without the need for surgical intervention.