Trip in public and we can’t help but laugh—or get laughed at. We’re embarrassed to be knocked off our feet, and for some reason, we also find it funny when we aren’t the one going down. But the older we get, the less funny those falls are, especially when they result in serious injury.
I’m one whose finding myself falling more frequently these days. Several health issues have resulted in weakness in my left leg causing me to stumble when tired. As my bone density numbers move closer to osteoporosis from osteopenia, it’s becoming more important for me to stop and think before stepping. More humbling than the actual fall is the reality that I’m getting older and falls tend to increase with age.
Falls can result in everything from minor bruises and scrapes to head bleeds. Too often, they cause fractures or broken bones particularly the hip, femur, pelvis, and vertebrae.
And the older we get, the more likely those falls may even take our life. In fact, falling in the elderly is the number one cause of death.
A doctor may note our falls risk factor, which is an indication of the chance we have of falling. That number is based on a combination of risk factors and raises with age.
Chronic health conditions such as heart disease, dementia, and low blood pressure can cause dizziness resulting in falls. Other factors include arthritis, chronic pain, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, anemia, thyroid imbalance, sensory issues, dehydration, some medications, and low levels of vitamin D.
Falls can be somewhat prevented by keeping the home free of clutter; removing tripping hazards such as area carpets, particularly those with curled edges; repairing uneven flooring, installing grab bars and handrails; wearing shoes; ensuring that lighting is bright enough; and avoiding stairs.
It’s also important for us to exercise. Tai chi is excellent for maintaining balance and strength. Weight training, walking, and yoga are also helpful. In addition, eating calcium-rich foods, taking calcium supplements, and getting vitamin D from sunlight is advised.
(Young in the Spirit. Spiritual Strengthening for Seniors and Caregivers is available from Amazon.com, ACTA Publications, and my website. Check out my other blog, Midwest Mary.)