If you trip and fall it can be dangerous at any age, of course, but become even riskier as you get older and your bones become more brittle.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that every year, one in three adults ages 65 and older suffers a fall. One in five falls causes serious injury, such as broken bones or a head injury. In fact, more than 95 percent of hip fractures are caused by falls, which are also the most common cause of traumatic brain injury.
Many things cause people to fall as they get older, such as medications that make them feel dizzy; weakening muscles or difficulty walking due to chronic joint pain; or blurred vision that impacts their ability to judge distances properly or prevents them from seeing objects they could trip over.
About half of all falls happen at home, and many can be prevented. The CDC offers the following tips to people of all ages for improving home safety.
• Remove objects from the stairs and hallways that people can trip over (such as papers, books, clothing or shoes).
• Install handrails and lights on all stairways.
• Remove small throw rugs, or make sure rugs won’t slip by using double-sided tape to anchor them to the floor.
• Avoid the use of step stools by keeping items used regularly on the lowest shelves.
• Wear safe, comfortable shoes inside the home and avoid going barefoot or wearing slippers.
• Put grab bars inside and next to the tub and shower and next to the toilet.
• Make sure your home is always well lit throughout.
In addition to reducing safety hazards, the CDC suggests that older people:
• Stay physically active and as fit as possible to improve their balance and agility.
• Have their vision checked regularly, and wear corrective lenses if necessary.
• Have a pair of lenses with just a distance prescription (if bifocals are typically worn) for outdoor activities, such as walking, so that objects don’t appear closer or farther away than they actually are.
• Have a doctor or pharmacist review prescriptions and flag those that may cause dizziness or drowsiness; discuss ways to alleviate these side effects.
• Check vitamin D levels and take supplements if the levels are low, as a lack of vitamin D can also contribute to the risk of falls.
In addition to helping to prevent dangerous falls, taking these precautions may help to prolong a better quality of life by reducing the risk of injuries that can lead to long-term or permanent disabilities.
Even if injuries don’t occur, many people who fall become fearful of falling again and, therefore, become less active after a fall, which may make them weaker and thus even more at risk for injury.