As people age, various factors increase the risk of falls and fractures, such as deteriorating bone density and the use of medications that impair alertness, as well as declining balance, coordination and strength. Sadly, the injuries can result in permanent disability or death. However, simple measures can make a home environment safer, and healthy lifestyle practices can help maintain muscle mass and joint health. Here are seven ways to protect yourself.
1. Remove Possible Obstacles from Your Home
Survey each room in your house with a critical eye, and remove any item that might possibly cause a fall. Keep debris like newspapers and parcels off the floor, and put electrical cords and phone cords in out-of-the-way places. Arrange home furnishings like coffee tables and magazine racks away from high-traffic areas. Repair loose floorboards and remove loose rugs. Clean up floor spills immediately.
2. Use Assistive Devices
Put grab bars and a non-skid bathmat in the tub and shower. Install handrails on both sides of stairways, but it would be safer to confine living quarters to the bottom floor of the house. Anyone with impaired mobility can benefit from a raised toilet seat, in addition to a plastic tub bench and hand-held nozzle for the shower. Use a cane or walker if necessary.
3. Ensure Adequate Lighting
Place a lamp within easy reach of the bed for middle-of-the-night bathroom visits. Keep a flashlight near the bed to use during power outages. Turn on a light before ascending or descending stairs.
4. Avoid Unnecessary Risks
When trying to reach an item on a high shelf, use a safety stool rather than a chair; better yet, put frequently used items on a lower shelf. Refrain from alcohol consumption, especially at night, as it can impair balance, slow reflexes and produce dizziness. Walking too fast or shifting from a sitting to a standing position too quickly can provoke a fall, so move slowly and carefully. Small vision and hearing losses can increase the risk, so wear eyeglasses and hearing aids consistently.
5. Wear Sturdy Shoes
Avoid high heels, flimsy slippers and shoes with a slick sole, and refrain from walking barefoot or in your socks. Wear well-fitting sensible shoes with nonskid soles.
6. Maintain Bone Health, Muscle Mass and General Health
Get at least 15 minutes of sunlight exposure every day to ensure adequate vitamin D intake for bone density. Fatigue can increase the risk of a fall, so get enough sleep. Eat a nutritious diet rich in fruits, vegetables, extra virgin olive oil and fatty fish to help preserve general health.
Engage in regular workouts such as walking, water aerobics or tai chi. Do balance exercises: for example, while holding onto the back of a chair, stand on one leg at a time for a minute. Ask your doctor for a referral to a physical therapist, who can create a custom exercise program to build strength, coordination and flexibility.
7. Know the Right Way to Fall
Sometimes taking a tumble is unavoidable, but knowing how to fall can minimize injuries. During a fall, the natural impulse is to stiffen; so make a conscious effort to relax, which will reduce the risk of a bone fracture. When you land, try to roll. If you fall backward, bring your chin to your chest to prevent hitting your head.
Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at http://www.alternativemedicinetruth.com. Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.