According to the National Institute on Aging, your risk of a fall rises the older you get, and every year more than one out of three Pennsylvanians age 65 and older will suffer a fall. Falling can result in a devastating injury for an older adult, especially if you have underlying health issues such as osteoporosis, which can make your bones more susceptible to fractures. In some cases, a fall may result from the negligence of others; for example, the proprietors of a business may have a broken sidewalk outside or fail to notify visitors of a wet spot on the floor.
While you cannot control the actions of others, you can take steps to protect yourself from falling. An assistive device, such as a cane or a walker, can help you feel more steady when ambulating. Your physician can refer you to a physical therapist who will be able to help you choose the right device and instruct you on its proper use.
Be aware of the effects of medications and other substances. Some prescription drugs can cause side effects such as dizziness or drowsiness, either of which can increase your risk of falls. Even a small amount of alcohol can have a negative effect on your balance, so limit your alcohol consumption or abstain from drinking altogether. While tobacco use is not directly related to fall risk, it does decrease bone mass, making you more likely to experience a fracture if you do suffer a fall.
It may be tempting to refrain from physical activity in order to minimize the risk of falls, but in fact, staying physically active can actually help prevent falls by keeping your muscles, tendons, ligaments and other joint structures strong and limber. Your doctor or physical therapist can help you to formulate an appropriate exercise program.
The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.