Today is National Falls Prevention Day

Today is the first day of fall and the Falls Free Coalition has dubbed today National Falls Prevention Day.  Accidental falls are a major health problem among the elderly in the United States.  One in three people over age 65 fall each year.  Many falls result in hospitalization.  Ten percent of elderly people who fall have serious injuries resulting.  These include fractures, joint dislocations, and severe head injuries.

 As a podiatrist in Houston, TX who treats a fair number of elderly patients, the results of falling is far more than physical alone.  There are significant emotional and psychological effects as well.  An unwillingness to venture outside, fear of falling again, changes in a person's gait, and an overall "aging" affect are commonly noticed after a fall.  It is important to identify these factors as well.  Falls can lead to depression which can have a devastating effect on the elderly person.

What can you do to help prevent falls? Starting an exercise program is a great way of lowering the chances of a fall. Especially helpful are exercises that increase balance and coordination. You should also review all of your medications with your doctor. There are some medications and other combination of medications that can cause drowsiness and can cause a fall. You should also have your eyes checked once a year to be sure you eyesight is as good as it can be.

Making your home safer also is helpful in preventing falls. Remove things that can be tripped over, such as books, area rugs, and shoes. Putting grab bars in areas that can be slippery, such as the bathroom and shower, as well as using non-slip mats are helpful. Also, wearing shoes inside and outside the house can help with stability and minimize the chance of falling.

It is impossible to prevent falls entirely, but taking some steps can certainly help to reduce the chances. If you or your loved one does have a fall, be sure to get checked out, no mater how minor it seems. The quicker you get something taken care of, the less chance it can be a problem later on.
Dr. Andrew Schneider
Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.
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