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Talk to your doctor about how to prevent falls

More than one-third of adults older than 65 fall every year. One third of those who fall develop fatal complications within a year. Many older adults start to limit their activities out of fear of falling, but research shows that becoming less active can actually increase the risk of falling. Talking to your doctor and sharing your concerns can make a difference.

Risk factors for falls

  • Age: The risk of being seriously injured in a fall increases as you get older, especially over the age of 85. A person over the age of 85 is four times more likely to get seriously hurt in a fall than someone who is 70. That's because the body changes with age. Vision, balance and flexibility all decline.
  • Gender: Women fall more often, but men are more likely to die from a fall.
  • Chronic conditions and medications: Some conditions like high blood pressure and heart disease can lead to dizziness. So can prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
  • Environment: Poor lighting, clutter, pets and uneven walking surfaces can lead to a fall. Ice is particularly dangerous.

What you can do

  • Talk to your doctor. Ask how your health conditions and medications can affect your balance. Falls are not a normal part of aging. By being proactive and making a few changes, you can reduce the chances of taking a fall.
  • Get regular exercise. Exercise can improve your flexibility and strength. It can also help you maintain your sense of balance. A special exercise program call Tai Chi has been shown to be especially helpful in these areas.
  • Have your vision checked every year. If you need glasses, get them! If you have glasses, wear them!

    Set the stage for safe living

    • Get rid of clutter and things that you might trip over, like throw rugs.
    • Install handrails.
    • Install good lighting, especially in stairways, and use nightlights.
    • If you live where it snows, do errands only during the day so you can see slippery spots. Keep a bag of kitty litter in your car and toss some on the ground before you get out. This will help you keep your footing.

    We're here to help

    A Priority Health case manager can:

    • Explain your condition
    • Suggest services
    • Answer your questions
    • Refer you to the right treatment
    • Give you information to read

    Contact a Priority Health nurse case manager now.

    Evidence-based programs to help with balance and fall prevention

    Additional resources

    Last modified: 1/15/2014
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