One moment you’re reaching for that teapot on the upper shelf of your kitchen. The next, you’re on the floor writhing in pain, chastising yourself for having not been more careful.
It’s oh too common. One-third of people aged 65 years and over typically fall once or more in any calendar year, and nearly one-half of people in long-term care facilities were admitted because they had a fall.
Break your hip, and it can be even worse. Half of those who do, never regain their pre-fall level of functioning. The good news? There is plenty you can do to help prevent falls from happening.
Naturally, you can’t entirely eliminate the risk of falling (short of sitting in your chair all day and not going anywhere). Yet there are precautions you can take.
So, what contributes to a fall?
It’s all about balance. Having a lack of stability or the inability to recover your balance is the most common reason for falls.
There are a number of factors that contribute to a lack of balance:
- Chronic illnesses like strokes, Parkinson’s Disease, arthritis and heart disease can cause instability
- Taking multiple medications or inappropriate use of meds increases the risk of falling
- Age-related sensory changes like poor eyesight or hearing, muscle weakness or poor gait
- An over-indulgence in alcoholic beverages
- Slippery floors, throw rugs and loose carpeting
- Walking surfaces cluttered with objects like cords, pet dishes or newspapers
- Carrying heavy or awkward bags or purses
What can you do?
The three most beneficial actions you can take are: exercise, exercise and exercise. Whether it’s Tai Chi, chair yoga, resistance training in the gym or Nordic walking, it’s important to keep your muscles on the move. You’ll retain strength and balance to help prevent a weakening of the muscles that can lead to a fall. The other benefit is that if you DO fall, stronger muscles will help you cushion the fall and help protect the bones against possible breaks.
- If you’re on medications, ensure you keep regular appointments with PARC’s Wellness Nurse to review them, especially if dosages change or your condition changes.
- If you indulge in alcoholic beverages, ensure you are sitting down at the time, and ask for help if you need it to stand up, and even get to your room. Staff are always available to assist.
- Take stock of your suite. Are there loose items lying around you could trip over, or unstable surfaces? Try and clear any potential hazards.
- Try to minimize what you need to carry around. Extra bags and big purses can easily throw one off balance.
- If you have an assistive walking device, use it. Always.
- Don’t be shy in asking for help reaching for difficult-to-reach items.
- Eat regularly. PARC cuisine offers you all the nutritional benefits your body needs. By eating well and eating regularly, you will help prevent your joints, muscles and bones from weakening.
Through PARC Retirement Living’s Independent Living+ program, we have a full complement of resources and services to help promote your health through active aging. We offer exercise classes, a gym, wellness nurse, chauffeur service, PARC SMART nutritional options and more. By actively utilizing these resources, you’ll be doing your best to prevent muscle deterioration, helping to prevent falls.