Donya Currie is the editor of The Free Lance-Star's Healthy Life section and Healthy Life Virginia newsletter.
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Stay on your feet
Falling down as a toddler might mean a scraped knee and some tears, but for older people, the consequences can be far more significant. Karen Drilling, the senior leader for rehabilitation services at Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center, has a strong interest in fall prevention and recently offered to share her insights on the topic. Here’s what Drilling had to say in a recent email:
“It is never fall to me; always autumn. The word fall reminds me of how hard it is for our older neighbors, parents and friends to recover after they have had one. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, falls are the leading cause of injury-related visits to emergency departments in the United States—and the primary etiology of accidental deaths in persons over the age of 65 years.
There are four simple things you can do for yourself or your older friends and family to prevent falls:
- Have your doctors check your medicines every time you see them to make sure you are taking them correctly. Persons who take 4 or more medications are at increased risk of falling. If one of your medications is one that helps you sleep or has side effects that may make you dizzy, you are also at risk.
- Have your vision checked. If you have difficulty seeing objects in your way, like a pet or a grandchild, you might fall. Sometimes, low vision is related to the amount of light in your house. Replace your light bulbs regularly.
- Make sure your home has minimal safety issues; no slippery throw rugs or exposed cords to trip over.
- Lastly, begin a regular exercise program. Have your doctor refer you to a physical therapist to get started and then continue with a program designed for older adults. Now, get out and enjoy the beautiful autumn weather with no falls.”
I appreciate Drilling’s willness to share this advice, and other health professionals who’d like to share their expertise should fee free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.