(As seen in the Sun City West Independent newspaper.)
Fall prevention tips: what can I do to protect myself?
If you took physics in high school or college you may remember Galileo’s law of fall. It states that bodies fall on the surface of the earth at a constant acceleration and that the force of gravity, which causes all bodies to move downward, is a constant, unrelenting force.
Regardless of the law, when human bodies fall to earth, the consequences can be bad especially if the body belongs to an older adult. Each year, more than 1.6 million older U.S. adults wind up in emergency rooms for fall-related injuries. Among older adults, falls are the No. 1 cause of fractures, hospital admissions for trauma, loss of independence and injury deaths.
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Fortunately there are many ways to prevent falls, ranging from creating a safe home environment to improving balance and strengthening muscles. Ways to reduce your risk of falling include:
- Practice Tai Chi for better balance
- Strengthen core (back and abdominal) muscles
- Add handrails to showers and stairs
- Eliminate clutter from high-traffic areas such as the family room and entry
- Make sure you have adequate lighting throughout your home
- Remove loose rugs, which can be a tripping hazard
- Wear shoes that provide good support
- Keep items within easy reach so a step stool isn’t necessary
It’s important to tell your doctor if you do experience a fall because there may be underlying medical conditions affecting your balance, such as diabetes or changes in blood pressure. Medication or eyesight issues may also be factors.
The good news is that there are many actions you can take to prevent falls. I’m no Galileo but my law of fall is, “don’t do it.”
The Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing offers several fall prevention classes including a balance assessment and training program for individuals, and a balance and strength training series for groups. Please call 623-832-9355 (WELL) or go to www.sunhealthwellbeing.org for more information.
Rhonda Zonoozi is an exercise physiologist and certifi ed health coach at the Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing. If you have a health question, please email it to email@example.com. This information should not be substituted for medical advice from your physician.
(Originally published April 20, 2016; last updated Jan. 12, 2019.)