One bad fall is all it takes to seriously debilitate and hinder your daily life. Broken ankles, hips, and serious brain injuries can all be the result of a small misstep or obstruction. The elderly are at a greater risk for falls, due to weakened joints and loss of strength and motion in their feet and ankles. This danger is why fall prevention becomes more and more important to know as you add memories, and decades, to your life.
Ages Goes Up, Risk Goes Up
As you age, conditions like arthritis can put you at a greater risk for injury, as the disease often weakens and loosens the muscles, ligaments, and bones in your feet and ankles. When your body is more stiff and achy, it might be tempting to rest and relax as a way to relieve your symptoms. However, this creates even more discomfort and can deplete your muscle strength and endurance even further.
Tip No. 1: Just Keep Moving!
Getting exercise is one of the most important ways you can prevent falls. Stay limber with exercises like yoga that will keep your body limber and flexible, strengthen your legs, and help you regain balance in your feet and ankles. Walking, swimming, and tai chi are also some low-impact workouts that will keep you moving and keep your symptoms of pain away.
Everyone needs a buddy. If you’re younger, get more involved with your grandma, grandpa, mom, or dad by suggesting doing these workouts together. That way, you can catch up with them, get in a good workout, and keep them on track to a healthier body and mind!
Tip No. 2: Wear Good Shoes
In all of these activities, the appropriate shoes are must. Make sure you’re wearing the right shoes for the right activity. Wear good-fitting shoes with non-skid soles. Avoid flip-flops, high heels, loose slippers, and anything with a slippery sole. They may be cute, but they’re dangerous!
Tip No. 3: Let Nothing Stand in Your Way
When you get back inside your house, look around you. Is there anything that would make you trip? Half of falls happen inside the home, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You can eliminate the chance of being a statistic by simply moving around some clutter, repositioning loose cords, and changing the lighting in your home.
Here are some things that could make you slip: papers like the daily mail or newspapers, books, dirty clothing, shoes by the front door, kitchen or bathroom rugs on linoleum or tile, step stools, soap scum in the shower, and poor lighting.
Make sure you buy handrails and install them for the shower, toilet, and staircase to aid in daily tasks. You can also put double-sided tape on the bottom of rugs to ensure that they hold tight when you make your step. Adding lights in dark areas and keeping your shoes on inside the house is another way to practice fall prevention.
Tip No. 4: Medication and Vision Help
Some prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines may come with some hefty side effects that could increase your risk for falling. Your doctor will listen to your concerns and may be able to change you to other medications that makes you less drowsy or dizzy.
While you’re at it, this might be a good time to see the eye doctor. Being able to see where you’re walking is critical. Yearly eye examinations will help your doctor determine the prescription strength you need for contacts or glasses
Tip No. 5: Get Physical Therapy and Orthotics
At McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group, we can set you up with a physical therapy plan to help you regain strength in your limbs. Furthermore, we can also help you find the right shoe or create a custom orthotic to improve your balance and posture.
If you need to make an appointment to improve your fall prevention habits, give us a call at (916) 961-3434 to reach our office in Carmichael, CA. We also treat traumatic injuries like broken ankles and feet—even offering same-day service for your more severe conditions.
Photo Credit: tatlin