Do you have trouble picking up objects from the floor, reaching overhead, getting in and out of the chair or walking without holding on to something? If you find yourself answering yes to any of these questions, you are at risk for falling and may need to modify your lifestyle to help decrease your risk. Internal related factors like walking instabilities, balance problems, visual or hearing impairments, decreased muscle strength and tone can all contribute to our risk for falling. Also, diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, dementia, osteoporosis, and medications associated with each can affect your fall risk. External factors in our environment may also become potential risks. Poor lighting in and around your home, inappropriate walking surfaces that are slippery and shiny, bathrooms without handrails, throw rugs, and cluttered walkways are all external factors that may greatly increase your risk of falling. There are many ways to reduce the risk of falling from external hazards. Use non-slip rubber mats or strips in the shower or bathtub. In the kitchen, be sure to promptly clean food, liquid or grease spills. Install handrails on both sides of the stairs. Use non-slip low glare surfaces for flooring and avoid the use of throw rugs. Increase the wattage of light sources and use night lights when walking in your home at night. Exercises like walking and strength and balance training can help prevent falls. Having strong muscles and bones provides increased coordination and decreases the risk of fractures in the event of a fall.
- Talk to your health care provider before beginning an exercise program.
- Wear comfortable shoes.
- Keep good posture.
- Tai chi and Yoga are great exercises to help improve balance.