If you are over age 65, there is a 1 in 3 chance you will fall this year and a 20 to 30 percent chance you will be injured. Most falls can be prevented. Here’s what you can do:
Strength and balance exercises
Staying active will help maintain your strength and range of motion. You lose muscles as you age, so starting an exercise program will help protect you from falls.
“When you can stretch and strengthen your ankles, knees and hips, you rely less on your eyesight,” said Cindy Neth, licensed physical therapy assistant. “This is called proprioception. It helps your body know where it is at in space. This helps prevent falls, as well as improve your reaction if you do fall.”
Manage your medications
Medications can often make you dizzy or sleepy. Be careful when starting a new medication and be aware of potential side effects.
Have your vision checked
People with vision problems are more than twice as likely to fall. Have your eyes checked annually by a professional.
Make your living environment safe
More than half of all falls take place at home. Remove clutter and throw rugs. Improve poor lighting. Add grab bars in the bathroom, non-slip paint on outdoor steps and handrails where you need them.
Salem Health offers a variety of balance and fall prevention classes in Salem and Dallas. Don’t wait for the next time you fall—begin stretching, strengthening and balancing today.
“If you have not exercised in a while, start with our fall prevention class and work your way into Tai Chi,” said Neth. “Salem Health classes provide a safe environment for you to work at your own pace. If you are still not sure you are up to it, consult your physician before enrolling.”
You can sign up for a class online or by calling 503-814-CHEC (2432).