FALLING

Balance disorder is a leading cause of falls in the elderly. Falling and the resulting injuries is a serious health issue for seniors.

Simply growing older can bring about changes in your body that could cause imbalance. Inactivity, diseases of the eyes (glaucoma and cataracts), deterioration of nerves that carry sensory information from the muscles to the brain, and the decrease of nerve cells in the vestibular system can all cause dizziness, vertigo, and a feeling of imbalance, which could result in a fall.

Side effects from medication can impair sensory function and increase the likelihood of falling. Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) decreases blood flow and can affect the central nervous system. Osteoporosis and arthritis can weaken bone and muscle strength, increasing the risk of falling.

It's important at any age to take preventative steps to decrease the risk of falling. A healthy diet, regular exercise, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol intake, and getting your vision and hearing checked regularly are good ways to help you maintain your balance.

Wearing proper eyeglasses and hearing aids, treatment of correctible diseases such as hypertension, and monitoring your medication with your physician are important preventative measures to keep proper balance.

There are many things you can do to lower the risk of falling, including:

  • Use a cane or walker.
  • Wear nonskid, low-heeled shoes.
  • Make sure throw rugs have skid-proof backs.
  • Install hand rails in tub and shower and near toilets.
  • Make sure stairwells are well lighted.
  • Keep a flashlight by your bed.
  • Arrange furniture to not obstruct walking paths.
  • Stand up slowly, a momentary drop in blood pressure can cause dizziness.