It happens slowly at first: you hear a crack in your back when you get out of bed. Then you can’t pop up off the floor like before. And once it starts, it’s a slippery slope. Along with your average body aches and creaks, as we age, our sense of balance weakens putting us at an increased risk for falls. Moreover, this is accompanied by a risk of fractures, which can lead to medical complications and a decrease in long-term mobility and independence.
“Typically you’ll start to see some warning signs. You’ll see people stumbling, having near falls or falls that don’t result in a fracture. These are red flags,” says Jordan Smith, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Banner – University Medicine.
If you or a loved one are experiencing these red flags, schedule an appointment with a primary care physician or geriatrician. Vision, hearing, balance, pain and many other age-related conditions can contribute to falling. Address your concerns with your doctor and ask about any additional solutions such as an assessment by a specialist, physical therapy, or medication.
In addition to meeting with a doctor, here are some tips to help keep you safe.
Senior Fall Prevention Tips
- Keep pathways clear. Remove rugs and irregular items that are in your path to avoid tripping.
- Use assistive devices. In the bathroom, assistive devices may include handrails and tread in the bathtub to avoid slipping. Canes and walkers can be helpful for walking and balance.
- Exercise. Daily balance and strengthening exercises, such as yoga and tai chi, are important to your overall bone and muscle health.
- Vitamins, supplements and medications. To help avoid or treat osteoporosis, start a vitamin D and calcium supplement regimen. By strengthening your bones, you’ll reduce your risk of a fracture if you do fall. Also, be aware that many medications can cause dizziness. Keep a current list of all your medications and share this with your primary care physician or geriatrician.
- Be proactive.
- Place emergency numbers close to your phone.
- Schedule regular exams with specialists such as an ophthalmologist.
- Wear sturdy, flat shoes.
- When standing, rise up slowly.