While slips and falls are rare occurrences and don't often result in serious injuries for most of the population, for the elderly, losing one's footing and falling to the ground can have very dangerous side effects and severely impact overall health.
The bad news: one in three falls among adults 65 and over leads to a traumatic injury, such as a hip fracture. The good news: you have more control over falls than you might think. “Falls are preventable and predictable,” said Angela Katz, trauma injury prevention and outreach coordinator at the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth). “Prevention begins with awareness of your surroundings and identifying your risk factors.”
Katz advised striking a balance between the “white zone, with your head in the clouds, not taking precautions” and the “red zone, staying at home, fearful to take a step.” The ideal “yellow zone” means being attentive and aware but not afraid, said Katz. Because 75 percent of falls occur in the home, declutter, install handrails, place frequently used items on low shelves, ensure proper lighting and review your medication. “Talk to your doctor if you have fallen or fear falling,” Katz recommended.
“It’s a mistake to think that staying home and not being active will reduce your risk," she said. "It’s also a myth that asking for help, or using a walker or cane, indicates weakness or dependency. It’s actually empowering to maintain quality of life and prevent future falls.” Katz added that cultivating flexibility, strength and balance through a daily exercise routine also can help decrease the risk of falling.