The seasons are changing, the snow is melting, and many of us are ready to get outdoors! For our seniors, spending time outside can be the perfect activity to build strength and help prevent falls. One out of every four people over 65 fall each year. After one fall, your chances of falling again are doubled! After a fall, many people develop a fear of falling and cut down on their daily activities. When a person becomes less active, they become weaker and their chances of falling actually increase.
The best way to prevent falls is to stay active. It is important to choose an exercise program that is right for you. Regular exercise helps to strengthen and improve your muscles. It will also help your joints, ligaments, and can slow bone loss from osteoporosis. Enjoy the warmer weather and take short, appropriate walks outside.
It is also a good idea to have your eyes and hearing tested. Even small changes to your hearing and eyesight can increase your risk for a fall. If you use a bifocal lens, it is important to have a pair of glasses with just your distance prescription to use while doing outdoor activities, like walking. Sometimes these lenses can make things seem closer or further away than they really are and can lead to falls. Wearing the correct prescription, and having proper hearing aids can help keep stability with outdoor activities.
Understanding your prescriptions can also help prevent falls. Many medications can have side effects that include dizziness, disorientation, and sleepiness. These side effects can make it more likely for a person so stumble and fall. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist if you feel like you are experiencing possible side effects from your medications that could increase likelihood for a fall. They may be able to make adjustments to help you get around more safely.
Foot pain and poor footwear can also be to blame for many stumbles. If you are experiencing foot pain, it is a good idea to visit a podiatrist to find the cause. Wear non-skid, rubber-soled, low heel footwear that fully supports your foot. Avoid walking on stairs or floors in socks or in shoes or slippers with smooth soles.
Use of an assistive device can also help keep you steady as you walk. If you feel like a cane or walker could help you keep your balance, it is a good idea to discuss it with your doctor. Make sure the device is the appropriate size for you and, if using a walker, the wheels roll smoothly. A physical or occupational therapist can help you pick an assistive device and teach you how to use one safely.
We can make many changes to help prevent falls, but the most important is staying active. Spring weather often encourages us to get active outdoors. Take a safe walk with a friend or a caregiver. Spend some time gardening. Your mood and overall health can benefit from safe activity outdoors.