Each year, one in three people over the age of 65 will experience a fall. Are you doing anything to prevent falls? If not, you should. Here are three things you can do now to help reduce your chances of falling.
Step one: visit your doctor
See your doctor and have him, or your pharmacist review your medications. Some can affect your balance. A number of diseases can also affect balance. Have your eyes and ears checked since they both play a big role in maintaining equilibrium. Cataracts, glaucoma, or wearing the wrong glasses can increase your chance of falling.
Step two: fall-proof your home
Take a tour of your house and look for anything that could cause you to trip. Area rugs and electric cords are notorious tripping hazards. Install grab bars that are strong enough to support your weight and use handrails when using the stairs. Keep kitchen items you use often in cabinets you can easily reach. If you must use a step stool, get one with a bar to hold. Never use a chair as a step stool. Improve the lighting in your home, and keep emergency numbers in large print near each phone. Wear shoes inside and outside, and avoid going barefoot or wearing slippers.
Step three: strengthen your legs
Strong legs can help catch you if you trip. The easiest thing to do to strengthen your legs is to use them more. Walk around the block. Take the stairs. Practice standing up and sitting down from a seated position. Get up slowly after you sit down or lie down. Work in your yard. Join an exercise class. Exercises to improve balance and coordination like Tai Chi and strengthening exercises are most helpful.
The Senior Connection is a column provided by the Clinton County Office for the Aging. For more information about services for senior citizens, contact their office at 135 Margaret St., Suite 105, Plattsburgh or call them at 565-4620. Information is also periodically provided by the Behavioral Health Services North Caregiver Resource Center. They may be reached at 565-4543 or 565-4625.