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Nine Tips to Avoid Falls & Fractures

By Brittany Gatson

Falls are the second leading cause of accidental death. Seniors are the most at risk for a serious fall because of changes in balance and strength that can come with aging.

Taking a few common sense precautions can help prevent falls and hip fractures. The following basic actions could save your life, prevent a hip fracture and keep you independent longer.

1. Exercise
When you have osteoporosis, keeping still may seem like the best way to prevent falls and broken bones. But exercise improves strength, flexibility, and balance — which help you stay on your feet. Stick with low-impact activities like walking or swimming.

2. Talk to Your Doctor About Your Meds
Many medicines and medication combinations can make you dangerously drowsy or dizzy. Review everything you’re taking with your doctor. Also, ask about other health conditions that might affect your stability.

3. Be Shoe Smart
Walking barefoot or in socks can increase your risk of falls, so wear shoes even indoors. Choose footwear with low heels and slip-resistant soles.

4. Clear Clutter
Arrange furnishings so that it’s easy to walk around your home. Keep low coffee tables, magazine racks, stools, and plants out of your path. And make sure electric cords and phone lines are out of the way.

5. Go Slow
At home, take your time getting out of bed or up from a chair. Don’t rush to answer the doorbell or the phone. More accidents happen when you’re in a hurry.

6. Use Safety Devices
Installing grab bars and rubber mats in the bathroom is just the beginning. Mount handrails on both sides of the stairs. Make sure all area rugs have skid-proof backing.

7.  Keep Things Light
Vision changes as we age, making it harder to avoid obstacles and get oriented in dim light. So keep your rooms bright!

8. Watch Out for Pets
Dogs and cats make great companions, but it’s easy for them to get underfoot. Each year, an estimated 21,000 older adults wind up in emergency rooms after tripping over their pets.

9.  Limit Your Alcohol
It’s no surprise that heavy drinking can lead to more falls. When you drink, you can be unsteady on your feet. But excessive alcohol also can damage bone health. It can limit the calcium that gets into your bones and make them more brittle and prone to fracture.

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