On Oct. 21, former President Jimmy Carter fell at his home, resulting in a slight pelvic fracture. Carter, 95, is the oldest living president and is reportedly recovering well in hospital.
Falls can affect anybody, but older Americans are at increased risk. For example, reports are that Carter has fallen twice this month. And although you may not be 95 or falling with the same frequency, it’s something you should be thinking about.
There are several factors that contribute to falls. It could be an existing medical condition like diabetes, heart disease, or thyroid problems. These conditions can impact blood circulation that leads to dizziness, or be side effects of medications used to treat them. Balance and falls can also be influenced by eyesight, hearing, or slower reflexes. Or your senses just might not be what they used to be.
Other causes include muscle weakness, poor posture, compromised balance, and even standing up too fast from a seated position. As you can see, there are a lot of things working against you.
But can you protect yourself? You bet you can. As you might have noticed, some of the causes of falls result from illnesses that we already know how to treat. Managing blood pressure, blood sugar, and staying active are all part of a fall prevention plan.
In addition to those factors, you can also do things like get your vision and hearing tested. Finding ways to maintain vision and lower the risk of age-related eye diseases like cataracts and AMD can help. Eating food with vitamin E and antioxidants can help, especially items like sweet potato, bell peppers, and leafy green veggies. If you need new glasses, get them.
Taking your time to stand up slowly and being aware of your surroundings is another way to limit the risk of falling. Maintaining clear pathways in your home and limiting potential obstructions can also help, as can performing agility and balance-exercises. Yoga and Tai-chi may help.
Falls are a risky part of aging but aren’t guaranteed. Limit your chance of a potentially devastating fall by taking care of yourself, managing existing conditions, and making your home a safe space.
Mat Lecompte is a freelance health and wellness journalist. This article was originally published on Bel Marra Health.