Stay Safe - Prevent Falls to Prevent Broken Bones

human skeleton

The National Council on Aging reports a quarter of senior Americans fall over the course of a given year. Experts say over 15000 Americans past the age of 65 die every year from falls. If you have fallen, whether or not you broke a bone, ask for a full evaluation.  A X-ray may reveal breaks you didn’t know about.  Other medical tests that can help you prevent falls: vision, balance, muscle strength, heart function, and blood pressure.  Annual vision checks can help prevent falls.

A regular exercise program can reduce the frequency of falls. Exercise can increase muscle strength in the legs and ankles and can help you feel more at home in your own body and maintain balance. Stretching is very beneficial.

You sometimes see old people doing Tai Chi, which is not strenuous but can help with balance.  Other exercise programs including dancing and calisthenics help with balance Tai Chi and strength in small muscles.

Poor vision is a risk. It makes you more likely to trip and fall. Old people need to pay attention to their vision and get glasses if needed. People with cataracts are more likely to experience osteoporotic fracture. Also, old people should make sure the lighting in their house is good and consider using night lights. Pay close attention to lighting near staircases and steps

Many medicines can affect the sense of balance, and sometimes combinations of medicines can make it worse.  It may not be feasible to change the medications but a change is worth looking into.

Your environment:  Make your home low risk for falls.  This can involve making sure there are no tripping hazards at home and other places you frequent.  Fix broken steps and install ramps if feasible. Put in railings where appropriate.  The hand bars you see in handicap toilets – consider getting them put in your own bathroom.  You might think they are creepy or inappropriate for you, but they can come in handy and you won’t know you need them until they need them.  Further,
grab bars can increase the value of your home.

Anti-slip mats in the bathtub are an easy safety upgrade.  Consider removing rugs that have lips, as small rugs often do.  Hide electrical cords behind furniture or under carpets or tape them down.  Also consider wearing shoes that support your arches and perhaps have non-slip soles.  Also, don’t climb on ladders or stools or stand on chairs.


People who take care of the elderly have are typically aware of the dangers of falls and the susceptibility that old people have. A study at Duke University found poor compliance by nursing home staff in taking training to reduce falls in their facilities.

News: Winter falls, bone fractures may point to osteoporosis

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