Falls and older people

By Dr. Sergio López Salamanca

Falls are one of the most common causes of injuries and death in adults 65 and older and are generally caused by various problems of adaptation to one’s surroundings. The chances of suffering a fall increase depending on the number of risk factors, which a person has to face.

The fall may be accidental if it is caused by tripping over something or skidding, or not accidental when it happens as a result of a blackout or the effect of a medicine. Or it could be a mixture of both.

The following are some important preventive measures:

  • ·Sight and hearing should be checked periodically, as weakness in either can affect balance.
  • ·Have an age appropriate exercise program to increase strength, tone and coordination.
  • ·Special attention should be given to programs, which focus on balance, such as Tai Chi.
  • ·Learn about side effects of any medicines, which are being taken, because some can affect balance and coordination. Ask your doctor about them.
  • ·Eliminate potentially dangerous things in the home, such as mats, unequal floors or obstacles that could be tripped over. Make sure that all staircases have handrails and non-slip tiles.
  • ·Avoid alcohol, as even a little can affect your equilibrium.
  • ·Get to your feet slowly, because getting up too suddenly from bed or an armchair can cause dizziness.
  • ·Use non-slip, low-heeled shoes and use a cane if you experience unsteadiness or have any other walking difficulties.
  • ·Make sure lighting is sufficient in the home, to avoid falling over things in the dark.


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