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Falls can be a fairly common occurrence in older people, however, they shouldn’t be accepted as a regular part of the ageing process. There is often a clear reason for a fall and it’s a good idea to find out what this is so that you can prevent it from happening again and potentially injuring yourself in the future.
There could be a number of reasons why you’re falling more regularly than you should be. When you’re trying to determine what these reasons are, you should have a think about any current health problems and medication you’re on, as these could be the main culprits. In other cases, it may be due to a new health condition that you aren’t aware of yet. If you live alone and are worried about falling, a personal alarm could mean that help is available at the push of a button. It might make you feel more confident and more able to do things around the house.
One of the main reasons older adults fall over is because of their balance. Good balance is something that most people take for granted - it isn’t something you usually have to think about. However, as you get older, you may find it more difficult to stand up without stumbling or struggle to climb up stairs without tripping. If you’ve ever had feelings of dizziness or lightheadedness, then balance could be a reason for your falls.
There are some illnesses that can cause dizziness, including labyrinthitis (inflammation of the inner ear) and Parkinson’s disease. Alternatively, a stroke might make you feel dizzier than normal. Certain medications could also bring on feelings of vertigo. It can be hard to pinpoint why you’re feeling dizzy or off-balance, so you should speak to a doctor who knows your medical history to find out what could be the cause.
Dizziness isn’t always linked to balance. You may be feeling dizzy because of a drop in blood pressure or if you suffer from conditions like heart disease or dementia.
Weak muscles could be another reason for your trips and falls. As you age, your muscles weaken, which can affect your strength and stamina. This can make activities that you once found easy much harder, such as going up or down a flight of stairs. You might find that tasks such as this take you longer than when you were younger.
It isn’t just age that can make your muscles weaker, but also a lack of physical exercise. Every adult should try to get at least 30 minutes of activity a day. If you find any kind of exercise difficult, you could try to rebuild your stamina by taking regular short walks, even if it’s just a 10-minute journey to the end of the road and back. If you feel unsteady on your feet, make sure to take someone with you to help you avoid a fall.
You may find that you’re falling over items or objects that you didn’t see. In this case, it may be your vision that is a problem. As you age, your vision will likely deteriorate, however, sometimes it does this over such a long period of time that you may not realise that you need glasses. Not being able to see clearly enough could lead to you tripping over stairs or falling over small objects.
Double vision can also be quite common in older people, particularly if you’re on certain forms of medication. For people with presbyopia, a condition that means you struggle to see things up close, you may require bifocal glasses. If you wear spectacles with these lenses, you might struggle to see properly when you’re looking down, resulting in an increased risk of tripping over steps or kerbs.
Falls may not always be caused by problems with your health. You may need better grip on your shoes or slippers or improved lighting in your home, particularly if you’re getting up to go to the bathroom at night. You should avoid any potentially dangerous situations too, such as climbing up a ladder or reaching into high cupboards.
Falls shouldn’t be accepted as something that happens to us as we get older. While they’re common, they shouldn’t be happening regularly, and there are some things that you could do to decrease the risk of falling.
If you think it’s your medication that is causing your falls, you should speak to your doctor about trying a different form of the same treatment. This could eradicate symptoms, such as dizziness or double vision.
Alternatively, there may be some steps you can take yourself to reduce the risk of falling. You’re more likely to fall on slippery surfaces so make sure that you wear shoes in the house or slippers with non-skid soles. Some slippers or socks come with small rubber pads on the bottom to prevent slipping on wooden or tiled floors. You’re also more likely to fall on the stairs or in the shower, so extra precautions can be taken in these areas, including fitting additional bannisters and grab bars.
Taking care of yourself and your health could reduce the risk of trips too. You should have your eyes and ears checked regularly to ensure that there aren’t any major changes. If you feel dizzy or unsteady on your feet, you could use a cane or walker to steady you and prevent you from falling.
Finally, it’s important to exercise regularly, even if it’s a short walk, and do daily exercises to strengthen your muscles.
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