4 Ways to Reduce Falls in the Elderly
By Kate Gardner
Unfortunately, falls in older adults are very common. According to the Canadian Family Physician, more than one-third of people over the age of 65 suffer a fall with injury each year. Injuries from falls can be devastating and have long-term consequences. As we help our older family members (or as we ourselves get older), it's important to know why these falls happen and what can be done to prevent them.
Causes and Risk Factors
Falls that happen in people over 65 may be caused by a number of factors, including the following:
Decreased muscle mass - As we age, we can suffer from sarcopenia (the loss of muscle mass). Older adults can lose enough muscle mass to make falls and related injuries more likely.
Medications - Older adults may take more medications. If a person takes more than four medications, they have a higher risk of falling.
Postural hypotension - Postural hypotension happens when your blood pressure drops sharply upon standing. This drop can make you feel dizzy and even pass out. Postural hypotension is common in older adults.
Gender - Women are more likely to fall than men.
Increased age - People over 80 have an increased risk of falls.
Falls can be scary for older adults and their families. The best way to approach this problem is to think about stopping the falls before they happen.
Vitamin D - Supplementation with at least 800 IU per day of Vitamin D has been shown to decrease falls. Talk with a healthcare provider before beginning supplementation.
Vision - Interestingly, a new glasses prescription is associated with a higher risk of falls. Researchers speculate this may be due to how hard it can be to get used to a new prescription. However, cataract surgery has been associated with a reduction in falls.
Environment - Make sure it's easy to get around the home. Move furniture, make stairs more accessible, and keep clutter picked up. Anti-slip shoes can also help, especially during the winter months.
Exercise - Exercises that build muscle and balance have been shown to be helpful in fall prevention. MedlinePlus.gov recommends exercising for 150 minutes or more each week and working in strength training at least two times per week. Start slow, build up endurance, and don't hold your breath! Holding your breath while exercising can make you lightheaded and lead to falls.
To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Monrovia, Calif.