A simple fall can change your life. Just ask any of the thousands of older men and women who fall each year and break a bone (sometimes called fracture). Getting older can bring lots of changes. Sight, hearing, muscle strength, coordination and reflexes aren’t what they once were. Balance can be affected by diabetes and heart disease, or by problems with your circulation, thyroid or nervous system. Some medicines can cause dizziness. Any of these things can make a fall more likely.
Then there’s osteoporosis, a disease that makes bones thin and likely to break easily. Osteoporosis is a major reason for broken bones in women past menopause. It also affects older men. When your bones are fragile even a minor fall can cause one or more bones to break. Although people with osteoporosis must be very careful to avoid falls, all of us need to take extra care as we get older.
A broken bone may not sound so terrible. After all, it will heal, right? But as we get older a break can be the start of more serious problems. The good news is that there are simple things you can do to help prevent most falls.
Falls and accidents seldom “just happen.” The more you take care of your overall health and well-being, the more likely you’ll be to lower your chances of falling. Here are a few hints:
Most medical insurance companies and Medicare do not cover items like home monitoring systems and reach sticks. So be sure to ask about cost. You will probably have to pay for them yourself.
You can help prevent falls by making changes to unsafe areas in your home with these home safety tips.
In stairways, hallways, and pathways:
In bathrooms and powder rooms:
In your bedroom:
In other living areas:
Source: National Institute on Aging, www.nia.nih.gov (Original title:Falls and Fractures)
Update: January 2018