of Falls Again
stumbled and fell in my living room last week, and my husband, who was in
the bedroom, couldn’t hear me calling for help. I was finally able to
get back on my feet by myself, but I cracked some ribs and pulled a muscle
in my shoulder (apparently trying to catch my fall). I didn’t seem to
trip over anything – I was just walking across the living room carpet
– and the doctor can’t find anything wrong that would cause me to
fall, so I guess I must have just tripped over my own two feet.
Fortunately I didn’t hit my head or injure myself seriously, but can you
suggest anything I can do to prevent this from happening again? I’m 78,
and I’m afraid that I might not be so lucky if I fall again.
up your feet, girl. Seriously, it is not uncommon for older adults to trip
over their own feet because, rather than pick up their feet when walking,
they often drag their feet and “schuffle” making it easy to catch
their feet on carpet or other rough surfaces. Don’t be lazy. Pay
attention to what you are doing when you walk, and lift your feet before
taking each step.
were, indeed, fortunate not to be more seriously injured because,
according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, more
than one third of adults over 65 fall each year, and more than 60% of
people who die from falls are over 75. In fact, among older adults, falls
are the leading cause of injury deaths, and those 75 and older who fall
are four to five more times likely to be admitted to a long term care
facility for one year or more.
have talked about falls in this column before, but it’s worth talking
about again. What can you do to reduce your chances of falling? There are
several things that you can do to make your home “fall-safe,” but
physically you should first have your vision checked to see if there are
any correctible vision problems that increase the risk of falling. Check,
too, to see that you don’t have an inner ear problem that might upset
your equilibrium. Certain medications can also have side effects that can
create unexpected dizziness and loss of balance. Your doctor should be
able to review all of these issues with you.
adults are often afraid of physical activity because of the fear of
falling, but exercise is still one of the most important things you can do
to to prevent falling – especially exercises that will strengthen your
lower extremities and improve your balance and coordination. Start walking
for at least 30 minutes, at least 2-3 times a week, and check with your
physician about starting a strength training program stressing exercises
for your hips and upper thighs to improve your stability. Tai chi and yoga
are also excellent for balance – and fun too!
start walking today, and tell your husband to turn up his hearing aid!
Evans is a 38-year veteran of the health and fitness industry and a
nationally recognized consultant on fitness for seniors. He is host of the
popular radio talk show “Forever Young” on San Diego’s KCBQ 1170 AM
(KCBQ.com) and chairman of the advisory council for the Retired &
Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of San Diego.
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