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  • Cameron Oglesby

Steps you can take to prevent falls

Every 11 seconds an older adult goes to the emergency room to be treated for a fall. Looked at another way, that's one on four Americans over 65.

Over 95 percent of all hip fractures are the result of a fall, and 30 percent of those patients die within a year.

But it doesn't have to be that way. Most falls result not from ordinary aging, but from lifestyle, according to Dr. Mike Cirigliano, an internist with the Penn Health System in Philadelphia. "People who live alone tend to be sedentary," he says. "The less they move, the weaker they get. The more deconditioned they become, the more they're prone to falls."

Fall prevention begins at home, because that's where 60 percent of them take place, according to the CDC. Here are some things you can do to reduce your risk:

  • Don't walk around the house in socks unless they have non-slide treads.

  • Better still, always wear shoes with good soles.

  • Stand on one foot off the ground for a least 10 seconds. Increase the time until you reach 30 seconds on each foot without holding on. The work your way up to holding it up with your knee at 90 degrees.

  • Sit on a chair, cross your arms over your chest, and stand up and sit down 10 times.

  • Using a chair or a low stool, step up and down 10 times with each leg.

  • To improve your posture, raise your arms in front of you in a "don't shoot" position and squeeze your shoulder blades together 10 times.

  • Take a minimum of 4,000 steps a day. (But note that walking by itself doesn't prevent falls.)

  • Do some kind of brain exercise, like crossword puzzles or board games.

  • Take a bone density test.

Research shows that knowing the reasons for a fall can reduce of future injuries, so make sure to take the initiative in talking with your doctor about it.

It's also ironic that Medicare covers home inspections only after a fall. But that's really too late. Rather than waiting, you really ought to have one now, for loose throw rugs, grab bars in the tub or shower, etc.

At Senior Insights, we can perform that inspection for you, along with offering other services designed to meet your specific needs. But first, we conduct a thorough three-part needs assessment of potential clients and their families to determine not only your physical needs, but also your (and your family's) cognitive, emotional and psychosocial needs as well. And only then do we recommend a custom-designed plan to meet your priorities, preferences, values, hobbies and interests that embodies them.

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