Falls and Fractures: How to Prevent Them

falls and fractures

The risk of falling – along with fall-related complications – rises with age. More than one in four people aged 65 years or older fall each year and falls account for 87% of all fractures in the elderly. A simple slip or trip can lead to a fracture that could be the start of long-term health problems or disability. As we age, fractures also tend to take longer to heal. Many falls can, however, be prevented. The good news is that, if you take good care of your general health, you may also have a lower chance of falling and breaking a bone. Here are some top tips to keep falls from tripping you up as you age…

falls and fractures

Don’t let the fear of falling keep you from being active

The right exercises can increase your muscle strength, balance, coordination and flexibility, which may help to prevent falls, while slowing down bone loss due to osteoporosis and thereby decreasing fracture risk. Read our article on the best exercises for seniors for some ideas to get you moving!

Fall-proof your environment

Some simple changes to your home can make a big difference when it comes to preventing falls. For instance, consider installing grab rails in the bathroom, have a night light next to your bed, make sure there are secure handrails on both sides of all stairs, remove loose rugs, arrange furniture sensibly and don’t leave objects lying about. Good lighting can also go a long way to keeping you from falling.

falls and fractures

Keep your eyes and ears open

It is a good idea to have your eyesight and hearing tested annually. Even small changes in sight and hearing can increase your risk for falls. Take your time to get used to new glasses or contact lenses. If you use hearing aids, make sure they fit well and wear them.

Wear sensible shoes

Choose rubber-soled, low-heeled shoes for the best foot support. Don’t walk around in your socks or in smooth-soled shoes or slippers, even at home.

falls and fractures

Be careful of side-effects

Talk to your doctor if your medicine makes you feel drowsy or dizzy.

Get enough zzzzz

You are more likely to fall if you are tired.

Don’t let your blood pressure drop you

Get up slowly – getting up too quickly can cause your blood pressure to suddenly drop, leaving you dizzy and wobbly… and more likely to fall.

falls and fractures

Look into assistive devices

Using a cane or walker to steady yourself can help to prevent falls. A physical or occupational therapist can help you decide which device might be helpful and teach you how to use it safely.

Free your hands

Carry your belongings in a backpack or cross-body shoulder bag to ensure that your hands are free to hold onto railings.

Keep your bones strong

Although having healthy bones in itself does not prevent falls, it may help prevent fractures when you do fall. Fractures can lead to a hospital stay, long-term disability, or even death. Getting enough calcium and vitamin D, along with staying active, can help keep your bones strong.

Although fall risk increases with age, falls usually don’t just happen for no reason. If you take good care of your overall health and follow the tips above, you can minimise your risk.

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