Fatal falls are cutting tens of thousands of American senior’s lives short every year. And experts say the problem is only getting worse.
In fact, fall deaths have skyrocketed 31 percent in the last decade. And almost 30,000 seniors lost their lives to one in 2016 alone.
Worst of all? This epidemic rise in deaths never had to happen. And the number of falls could be slashed practically overnight.
Because one of the main causes of these killer tumbles, is a fixable problem. We’ve even talked about it before here in Healthier Talk.
According to researchers, one in four seniors is being overmedicated or wrongly medicated and taking drugs they don’t need.
Combine this with the fact that we tend to become less steady on our feet as we age, and you have the perfect set up for dangerous or deadly falls.
At this rate in another 10 years, death from falls will have risen into the top 10 causes of death for seniors, trailing behind other major killers such as pneumonia and kidney disease.
And of course, as you get older there’s no such thing as a simple fall.
Common meds can raise your risk for falls
If a fall doesn’t kill you, you’re still not out of the woods. Because any tumble you take has the potential to cause serious and painful injuries such as a broken hip.
Many of the most common meds seniors are prescribed can cause you to be unsteady on your feet. And most seniors are on multiple drugs.
Blood pressure drugs, mood meds, pain pills and sleep aids can all send your fall risk rising. And combining them is practically a recipe for disaster.
In many cases, those drugs aren’t needed in the first place, such as sleep aids. In others, natural alternatives and little lifestyle tweaks could make a med unnecessary.
You should never stop taking a medication on your own, of course. But to reduce your fall risk you SHOULD have a serious talk with your doctor about what drugs you’re taking. And work together with him on a plan to cut back or eliminate any that you can.
2 MORE steady on your feet tips to prevent falls
But cutting back on meds isn’t the only thing you can do to avoid taking a serious tumble. Following are two more things you can to help prevent falls.
1. Go see the eye doctor:
If it’s been more than a little while since you’ve had your prescription checked, you’re not alone. Many of us put this chore at the bottom of our list.
But if it’s been more than 18 months, you should go ahead and make that appointment. When your prescription isn’t accurate, you’re putting yourself at a greater risk for falling.
If you wear bifocal or multifocal lenses, make that visit count even more by talking to your eye doctor about getting a pair of single focal lenses. According to a study published in the British Medical Journal, this change alone could prevent falls.
When study volunteers wore single vision lenses when outside or moving around in unfamiliar places they had far fewer falls than folks wearing multifocal lenses did. In less active seniors, falls fell by a healthy eight percent. But in the most active seniors, falls plummeted an incredible 40 percent.
And when the single-lens folks did fall, those spills were less serious.
2. Stumble proof your home:
As you age, your home can become a bit of an obstacle course. Home sweet home is suddenly full of hidden fall hazards. But a few simple changes can reduce your stumble risk and prevent falls.
Check the floors in every room of your home for things that can cause you to trip. Remove or reroute extension cords and phone cords so they don’t cross over any walking paths. Move any newspapers, magazine, books or boxes to higher surfaces. And ditch or donate any small area rugs, or tack them down securely.
Relocate any pieces of furniture that stand in the way of your walking such as plant stands or coffee tables. And don’t forget to place nonslip matts in your tub and on the bathroom floor.
Aging eyes require more light to see clearly. So go ahead and add more lighting to any dim areas in your home.
Increase the wattage on bulbs. Consider adding light switch covers that light up. (I don’t know how I ever lived without the one in my bathroom.) And add nightlights in hallways, on stairs and in the bathroom to prevent nighttime tumbles.
Don’t let a fall ruin your golden years, or end them altogether. Talk with your doctor about adjusting your current medications. And follow these two steady on your feet tips to help you avoid falls in the future.
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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