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Managing the number one cause of injury for seniors

As you age, it is no secret your health declines and you gain a variety of medical problems. While you may associate death with these conditions, they are actually not the most directly responsible for loss of life. However, they are a contributing factor in what the National Council on Aging reports is the leading cause of seniors sustaining fatal and nonfatal injuries: falls.

In turn, falls contribute to medical issues, raise the likelihood of a subsequent fall and harm emotional health by increasing depression, anxiety and fear. So many risks exist for falling: slippery surfaces, uneven flooring, stairs, objects in walkways, loss of balance and coordination, a drop in blood pressure, worsened vision, side effects from medication and so on. It may seem inevitable that you will fall at some point. However, with simple precautions, you can eliminate much of the risk.

  • See your doctor: A fall can be a sign of a new or worsened health problem. Your doctor can give you an evaluation of your health. Remember to get vision and hearing tests, too. Always tell your provider when you fall even if you do not feel hurt.
  • Know medication side effects: Be aware of how the medicine you take affects you. Switch medication if you can if you experience negative side effects.
  • Use safety features: Hold on to railings when climbing stairs or ramps and take the elevator when available. Rely on a cane, walker or friend for help if needed.
  • Wear proper footwear: Make sure the shoes you buy are nonskid and have no heel.
  • Survey your surroundings: Before proceeding, check the environment for hazards such as wet or broken floors, hidden steps and obstructions.
  • Stay healthy: Taking care of yourself can improve your balance and coordination. Get adequate sleep, exercise to your ability and avoid alcohol.

Do what lies in your power to prevent a fall. When someone else's negligence is responsible, you can take legal action against the person or entity.

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