Maintaining Good Health Even When You're Busy

Are You A Senior At Risk Of Falling?

by Caitlin Obara

Seniors are most at risk of suffering a serious fall. As a senior, protecting yourself from a fall means learning more about what could cause a fall and taking preventative action. To help get you started, here is what you need to know.

What Causes a Fall?

There are several factors that can lead to an increased risk of falling as you age. One potential factor is your physical fitness levels. As people age, they tend to become less active. Without very little activity, your muscles could weaken and your balance and coordination could suffer.

Sometimes, the medications that are taken can cause a fall. Some medications have side effects, such as drowsiness and dizziness, that make it difficult to stay on two feet.

Even the diseases that the medications treat could lead to a fall. Disease, such as dementia and arthritis, can have an impact on your balance and muscles. It can even impact your cognitive abilities. Cognitive impairment means you might respond differently to hazardous situations that could cause a fall.

What Can You Do?

Prevention is key. The first step in protecting yourself is to get a thorough examination by your primary care physician. He or she can make adjustments to your medications, if necessary. The physician can also identify physical ailments that could lead to an increased fall risk. A treatment plan will be outlined by the physician.

You also should consider seeing a physical therapist if you are having trouble with balance and coordination. The therapist can assess your condition and recommend assistive devices that can help you move around easier. He or she can also show you exercises that can help improve your balance and coordination.

In addition to these measures, assess your home's safety. Look for ways you can make your home safer. For instance, if you are having balance problems, installing a grab bar in your bathtub and near the shower can help.

What If You Fall?

If you do suffer a fall and it is not serious enough to call for emergency help,  you still need to see your primary care physician. He or she will perform an assessment to determine if a new illness is impacting your balance, coordination, and cognitive abilities.

The physician will also review your medications with you. There is a possibility that the physician might eliminate a medication or prescribe a new one.

You should talk to your physician about referrals to help improve your safety. For instance, he or she might refer you to a podiatrist to discuss options for customized shoes to help your balance.