Every year, one in three adults 65 and older falls, and 2 million are treated for fall-related injuries, including hip fractures and brain trauma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Fortunately, falls are not an inevitable part of aging, and many can be prevented. Stay safe and injury-free by devising a fall-prevention plan.
Begin your plan by bringing your doctor into the conversation. He or she will most likely ask about prescription and over-the-counter medications you’re taking, so be sure to take a current list with you. Your doctor may consider discontinuing any medications that increase your risk for falling, including sedatives and certain antidepressants. CDPHP® Medicare Choices members have the option to meet one-on-one with a pharmacist to review their medications through our Medication Therapy Management program.
If you’ve fallen before or have almost fallen, be prepared to discuss these details with your doctor, including when, where and how. This will help your doctor identify fall prevention strategies.
Finally, be sure to mention any health conditions that may hinder your ability to walk, such as certain eye and ear disorders, dizziness, joint pain, numbness or shortness of breath. Your doctor will most likely evaluate your muscle strength, balance and gait to recommend exercises or equipment, such as a cane or walker, that will help you stay steady on your feet.
With physical activity comes greater strength, balance, coordination and flexibility. If you’re not currently active, talk to your doctor before beginning a fitness program and stick to gentle, low-impact exercises like walking, water aerobics, and tai chi. CDPHP Medicare Choices members can take advantage of our Senior Fit® program, which offers no-cost access to the Capital District YMCA, Glens Falls YMCA, the Beltrone Living Center, the Sunnyview Lifestyle Wellness Center, the Rudy A. Ciccotti Family Recreation Center and the SilverSneakers® program. Members can also take a free wellness class, in addition to other senior wellness options.
Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said that almost half of all falls happen at home. By conducting a home safety check, you can identify potential hazards that should be removed or fixed immediately.
To avoid tripping on objects that might be hard to see, make sure your home is brightly lit. Use these tips:
Visit cdphp.com for more information on senior health. CDPHP Medicare Choices members can take advantage of our Health AllySM program, which puts you in touch with a health coach who will provide personalized support to help you make the most of your benefits and the services available through the community and CDPHP.