Who needs to be concerned about safety?
Safety strategies to protect your bones are important for individuals of all ages. It is imperative for everyone to protect their bones and overall health by wearing seatbelts in any moving vehicle and by using appropriate protective equipment when participating in sports. If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, you may be more likely to break a bone as a result of a fall. In fact, most broken bones happen as a result of a fall. Falls happen for many reasons, most of which can be avoided. How common are Falls?
Anyone is at risk for a fall, however, falls are especially concerning in the older adult population. 30% and 40% of community-dwelling men and women aged 65 and older fall each year, with about one-third of those falls resulting in serious injury.; Each year an average of 863 New York State Residents over the age of 65 die as a result of an injury from a fall. This is equal to 2.4 deaths a day in New York that could be attributed to falls. In the elderly approximately 1 in 10 falls results in serious injury such as head injury, soft tissue injury or fracture Approximately 90% to 95% of hip fractures are the result of a fall. What are the risk factors for falls?
There are several factors that can increase the risk of a fall. These risk factors for falls include:
lower body weakness
problems with gait and balance
use of multiple (4 or more) medications
a previous history of falls
Knowing your personal risk for falls can help you take steps to prevent falls and the potential for a fall-related fracture. For example, by participating in safe physical activity, you can help strengthen the muscles that protect your bones in the event of a fall.
How can I reduce my risk for falling in my home?
It is important to do a home safety check on a regular basis to identify and modify falling hazards. Sometimes it is hard to recognize hazards in your own home so consider asking a friend or family member to help you safeguard your home. Using a checklist can assist you in safe-proofing your environment. (See: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control Publication entitled "Check For Safety: A Home Fall Prevention Checklist for Older Adults", the National Osteoporosis Foundation Falls Prevention Checklist). Just a few of the steps that you can take to fall-proof your environment include securing throw rugs, using nightlights and installing grab bars in your bathroom. In addition, it is also very important to prevent and avoid wet, slippery floors both inside and outside of your home. What are some other strategies for fall prevention?
Get regular vision and hearing exams - Poor vision and hearing loss are common reasons for falls. It is important to have your hearing and vision checked on a regular basis by your healthcare professional. Know the side effects of the medications that you take - If you take medications, it is important to know the possible side effects. Some medications can cause dizziness or lightheadedness and increase your risk for falls. For more information about the potential side effects of your medication, speak to your pharmacist. Take precautions for outdoor safety - It is important to avoid walking on slippery surfaces and to be cautious walking on cracks and uneven surfaces. Another wise safety choice is to park in well-lit areas at night. Use assistive devices properly and safely when needed - There are many assistive devices such as canes, walkers and grabbers that can help individuals who are at increased risk for falling. When used properly and safely, these devices can promote independence and reduce the risk of falling. A consultation with a physical therapist or occupational therapist is beneficial to find the right assistive device for you and learn how to use it properly to ensure your safety. Avoid excessive alcohol consumption...