Every 11 seconds, an older adult in the U.S. experiences a fall that leads to an emergency room visit. Falls can result in injuries like hip fractures and head trauma, which can have lasting, devastating consequences. In fact, falling is the leading cause of accidental death for the elderly.
“There’s such a high risk of dying in the first year after a hip fracture,” said Leah Witt, M.D., geriatrician, pulmonologist and assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. “Plus, people often aren’t able to function as well and aren’t as independent as they were before the fall.”
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of experiencing a fall.
Monitor Medication Side Effects
Many prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications list dizziness as a possible side effect. For example, diuretics can lower blood pressure and lead to dizziness when standing up. Allergy drugs like Benadryl can cause dizziness and drowsiness.
Dizziness is also result when multiple drugs interact with one another. In fact, one study published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome found that use of five or more medications was linked to greater odds of a fall that requires medical care.
If you take medications linked to dizziness, contact your doctor to weigh the risks and benefits and to discuss alternatives.
Keep Senses Sharp
Hearing and vision loss are both common problems as we age. Hearing loss, in particular, has been linked to an increased risk of falling; a 2012 study by Johns Hopkins found that middle-aged people with mild hearing loss are three times more likely to experience a fall than peers with normal hearing.
Those over the age of 50 should schedule a vision test once a year and a hearing screening every three years.
Clean & Declutter
Turned up rugs, piles of clutter, cracked sidewalks and poor lighting are all factors that can cause falls all too easily. Keep your home and yard tidy and free of obstructions.
Strengthen Important Muscles
To prevent falls, it’s important to have a strong, healthy body. Exercises that work the glutes, legs and core are especially important for balance, as they help you catch yourself before you fall and make everyday tasks like getting out of bed or into the car easier. To talk with an audiologist about preventing falls, contact ENT of Georgia today.