No matter how hard we try, gravity works. It’s always there pulling us down, but as we age old man gravity’s pull on us can become dangerous. Falls are a leading cause of injuries and hospital stays, especially in the elderly. The CDC reports that 1 in 3 older adults (65 or older) fall each year and these falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries. Their statistics show that in 2013 2.5 million nonfatal falls resulted in the hospitalization of over 734,000 people. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons highlights how these injuries follow a pattern: fear of falling, falling/injury, hospitalization, decreased independence/mobility, followed by relocation to a nursing home or residential institution. As we age, our bones get more fragile and susceptible to breakage; therefore we need to take special care not to allow ourselves to become victims of gravity’s pull. We must be proactive in our everyday lives to assure that we create an environment that allows us to avoid the many pratfalls that can contribute to falling.
Yes, gravity does work!! Since it does, how do we avoid injuries from falling? The best way to achieve that is to develop a fall prevention plan. This way we can hopefully be one step ahead of dreaded Mr. Gravity. The first step might be meeting with your doctor as mayoclinic.org points out. When you meet with your doctor tell him about any medications (prescription or over-the-counter) you might be taking. This allows your doctor to explain any side effects or interactions these medications may have. Also, your doctor may ask you about any falls you may have had in the past. This will allow your doctor to suggest some fall prevention tactics. Lastly, mayoclinic.org suggests letting your doctor know about any health conditions you have that may make you more susceptible to falling. Eye and ear conditions can contribute to dizziness and therefore increase your risk of falling. Any kind of numbness, pain, or shortness of breath can lead to a fall resulting in injury.
The old saying is objects in motion tend to stay in motion and there is a lot of truth in that when it comes to preventing injuries from falling. Even the simplest activity, such as walking or yoga, can help with muscle tone and balance. As we get older, aquatic activities and even tai chi can go a long way in maintaining our overall healthy well-being. These activities help improve our flexibility, balance, and coordination and therefore can minimize our risk of falling. If you need assistance getting around the house the installation of grab bars is a good idea. Graham-Field Lumex Versaguard Coated Grab Bars can assist people rising from a seated position and can be mounted vertically, horizontally, and diagonally. If you are skeptical about your ability to exercise a consultation with a physical therapist might be a good idea. They can develop a custom exercise program for you by evaluating your overall physical health and improve your stability so you can avoid the pull of gravity. Some of the best advice I’ve ever received was “wear comfortable shoes.” We can take this advice one step further (no pun intended) and make sure we wear sensible shoes while we are walking around. Certain shoes, such as high heels or flip-flops, can lead to our instability and an increased risk of falling and injuring ourselves. Besides preventing falls, we can reduce the risk of injury by getting adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D in our diets or by taking supplements. Also, being screened for osteoporosis and doing weight-bearing exercises can help to reduce the risk of injury if we should happen to fall. The CDC points out that these precautions can help reduce the risk of hip fracture in older adults.
We can take measures to make our homes safer to minimize the risk of injury from falling. Even something as simple as stepping on a bathroom scale can lead to a fall. One dangerous area of the home that is prone to falls is the bathroom. To minimize the risk of falling, install the Graham-Field Tub Guard Bathtub Safety Rails. It makes getting in and out of the tub a safer adventure. Other options for bathtub safety include the Guardian Bathtub Safety Rail as well as the Guardian Deluxe Tub Grab Bar. Both make entering and exiting the bathtub a safer and more secure experience. When using the toilet, the Buckingham Foldeasy Portable Safety Frame allows the user to sit and stand with greater ease and comfort. Another way to avoid slipping and falling while using the toilet is to use the Homecraft Uni-Frame Folding Toilet Rail. It folds flat for storage and has rubber feet so that it does not slip. Drive Medical offers the Standalone Toilet Safety Rail so that patients can feel secure while using the toilet. Its features include padded armrests, a magazine rack, and tool free assembly. It’s also a good idea to employ grab rails to help us maneuver in the bathroom and in other places in the home. Some of these bars can be mounted permanently while others employ suction cups and can be moved around the home. Drive Deluxe International Grade Adjustable Length Suction Cup Grab Bars provide assistance and safety in the home and while traveling. Not only can they be used in and around the bathtub, they can be utilized as a temporary towel bar and near a chair or stairwell for assistance while climbing stairs or standing. The Bridge-Medical Telescoping Portable Grab Bar can be lengthened or shortened as necessary to meet the specific needs of the user. Some bars can be permanently mounted, such as the Guardian 81000 Series Knurled Chrome Plated Wall Grab Bars and can be mounted in the kitchen, stairway, or even the laundry room to help with fall prevention. It’s finish helps provide a secure grasp even when wet. While showering the use of a nonslip mat in the shower can go a long way in preventing falls. The Dri-Dek Nonslip Shower Surface provides a textured anti-slip surface that allows water to drain away. It’s interlocking tiles can be assembled to cover any size or shape floor. Falls can happen anywhere, so it’s important to make sure we are safe anywhere in our home or where we might travel to. It’s always a good idea to find products that can be portable and travel with us. The more prepared we are, the safer we will be and avoid injury.
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Kevin Cleary has been a Health Products For You contributor for many years and has a degree in marketing. His health and wellness journey has a very personal meaning and has guided him in his content writing for HPFY.
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