Seniors in Joliet prevent falls and fractures

The commercial, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up,” is no joke. For seniors, falling rarely just happens but rather results from multiple causes that occur over time. As people age, their muscles and bones can weaken, balance can be affected, and certain medications and medical conditions can make falling and fractures more likely. Seniors who are also more prone to diseases like osteoporosis are more susceptible to experiencing a fall.

According to SeniorAdvice.com, every year more than 1.6 million older adults go to the emergency department for fall related injuries. Falls are the main cause of fractures, loss of independence, hospital admissions and death.

Hip fractures are the most common and serious type fall related injuries. After such a fall, only half of older adults hospitalized with hip fractures can return home and live on their own. About 80 percent of hip fractures occur in women. Women lose bone density at a faster rate than men do. The drop in estrogen levels that occurs with menopause accelerates bone loss, increasing the risk of hip fractures as a woman moves beyond menopause. However, men also can develop dangerously low levels of bone density.

The fear of falling causes older adults to avoid physical activities, such as walking and exercise. But the truth is physical activity can help prevent falls. Some seniors who are concerned with falling go to physical therapy which can help improve balance, maintain physical health and prevent falls.

Bone fractures in senior citizens are not only traumatic but can lead to more serious problems later on, but there are some ways to decrease the probability of falling by following some simple guidelines.

Preventive Measures from the National Institute on Aging:

  • The doctor can perform a bone mineral density test that measures bone strength. Some medications can increase bone strength which can prevent likelihood for falling.
  • Take part in healthy amounts of physical activity which will improve balance, muscle tone, joint flexibility, or even slow osteoporosis.
  • Test vision and hearing since defects in sensory functioning can make one less stable overall.
  • Be aware of the side effects of medications which can affect balance and coordination.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol consumed which can also affect balance and coordination.
  • Use a cane or walking stick if needed, and always be careful when walking on unstable or slippery surfaces
  • Wear the right footwear that has rubber soles or low heels.
  • Hold the handrails when going up and down stairs and only hold items in one hand so that you can keep a hand on the rail at all times
  • Use good judgment – stay away from situations that could cause a fall such as a freshly washed floor, trying to reach something that is too high.
  • Research home monitoring systems that will allow for access to help after experiencing a fracture
  • Install good lighting with light switch access both at the top and bottom of staircases.
  • Keep areas where you walk clear.
  • Be sure that carpets are firmly fixed to the floor or apply no-slip strips to slippier surfaces such as wood and tile.
  • Install handrails on both sides of the stairs or inside the bathroom.
  • Place non-skid mats and strips on surfaces that get wet within the bathroom.
  • Keep night lights for easy navigation in the dark in hallways, near the bed, and in the bathroom.
  • Keep a telephone near the bed.
  • Keep electric cords and wires near the wall and out of paths of travel.
  • Tack down carpets and rugs firmly to the floor.
  • Be careful!
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