It’s just a moment in time. But when it involves a fall, it’s one that often changes EVERYTHING that follows.
For far too many folks, life becomes divided into two eras: Before the fall… and after.
Life is full of freedom, independence, and limitless possibility before a fall. But after it can become one filled with constant pain, difficulty getting around, and maybe even the loss of the ability to care for yourself.
You might even know someone who is struggling after taking a tumble. And seeing it up close, you can’t help but wonder, “What if it happens to me?”
Slash your fall risk by up to 40%
The truth is it can happen to any one of us, at any time, including you. Serious falls are common. And your risk of experiencing one rises with your age.
According to the National Council on Aging, every 11 seconds, a senior is treated in an ER for a fall. And every 19 minutes, another senior dies from one.
But you DON’T have to be one of them. The following five simple but effective tricks can slash your fall risk by at least 40 percent.
1. Unseat YOUR seat:
You can send your fall risk plummeting simply by staying active. In fact, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says if you swap out some couch potato time for activities that get you to unseat your seat, you could slice an impressive 10-20 percent off your fall risk.
Hate exercise? No problem… because you don’t HAVE to “exercise” in the traditional sense at all. Walking, gardening, and – post-pandemic – volunteering at the local bake sale will ALL count toward this “active time.”
2. Get a MOVE on:
But now for a dose of reality. Exercise IS good for you for all kinds of reasons. And that INCLUDES helping to keep you on your feet as you age.
So if you’re serious about avoiding dangerous falls, you need to be willing to step up your game. Because experts say “exercise” could reduce your fall risk by a stunning 39 percent.
But don’t worry, this still doesn’t have to be the “gym-rat stuff” that you hate.
There are all kinds of fun ways to fit your exercise in, including…
- swimming (MY favorite)
- square dancing
- fitness classes
- brisk walking
- golfing (without the cart)
- deep cleaning the house
- resistance bands
- bike riding (my husband’s favorite)
Pick out activities that you love to do, and you’ll never get bored. Just make sure to keep some strength and resistance training in the mix to build up your muscle strength.
And as a bonus, research shows you’ll live longer, too. Just two exercise sessions a week could increase your longevity by 15 years, according to one study.
3. Build BETTER balance:
By the age of 70, you lose about 30 percent of the muscle you had in your prime. Those weaker muscles don’t just make opening that pickle jar difficult, either. They can cause you to become unsteady on your feet, leading to falls.
But muscle loss isn’t inevitable. Resistance bands, modified pushups, chair squats, and more can increase seniors’ muscle strength by 25-30 percent. Ask your doc or check out these simple modifications to common exercises that make them truly senior-friendly.
As you rebuild your lost muscle strength, you’ll find your balance automatically begins to improve as well. And you can help it along by focusing on movements to specifically enhance your balance like these four fall-preventing moves.
4. Envision improved vision:
When’s the last time you got an eye exam? If it’s been longer than a year ago, your risk of falling could have shot through the roof. Poor vision or an inaccurate eyeglass prescription can make seeing your feet and obstacles in your way challenging.
Also, bifocals and multifocal lenses can make it tougher to see the space around your feet. So ask your doc about getting a backup pair of single-vision lenses for when you’re out and about.
This change alone cut the risk of falls among active seniors by 40 percent in one study.
5. Master mobility aids:
Canes and walkers can be real lifesavers as we age. They can help us stay independent and ON our feet. But only when you use them correctly. If you use a cane or walker to help you get around, make sure you’re using it the right way.
You should always use your cane on your stronger side. For example, if you have a bad right knee, use your cane in your left hand.
Adjust the height so that it hits around the wrist level. And make sure to replace the rubber tip regularly. If you’re using a walker, make sure to get instructions on using it properly from your doctor or a physical therapist.
Make TODAY the day you start “”fall proofing” your life. Don’t let a serious fall force you to put your life on hold, or worse.