June is National Safety Month and a group called Senior Extra at Lehigh Regional Medical Center have advice for local residents. It is being provided by Diann Cimrig, the hospital's marketing director.
Tripping and falling may not seem like a serious matter, but it can be for older adults. Injuries from a fall can negatively impact your health, independence and quality of life. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three adults age 65 and older fall each year in the U.S.
The good news is that falls are preventable. June is National Safety Month, and Lehigh Regional's Senior Extra program would like to provide some suggestions to help keep you safe.
Safety starts with you
Older adults are more prone to falls, but you can help reduce your risk by incorporating a few healthy habits into your lifestyle:
- Engage in regular exercise that develops balance and lower-body strength, such as walking, yoga, tai chi, and water workouts. The Lehigh Senior Center to find out about classes in your community.
- Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your prescription and over-the-counter medications to identify those that can cause drowsiness or dizziness. Be particularly careful with new medications make sure you know how they will affect you.
- Visit an eye doctor at least once a year to update eyeglass prescriptions and maximize your vision.
- If falling is a real concern for you, consider wearing an alarm device to assure you'll have immediate assistance in the event of a fall.
"For older adults, bone loss is also a concern," said Dr. Peter Curcione, local orthopedic surgeon, "and increases the risk of fractures if they do fall. Seniors can lower their risk of hip fracture by getting enough calcium and vitamin D, and doing weight-bearing exercises. Exercise not only slows bone loss, it can also help prevent falls by strengthening muscles and improving balance."
Safety begins at home
According to the National Council on Aging, more than half of all falls take place at home. The health care team at Lehigh Regional would like to offer some tips for ridding your home of potential hazards to help you lower your risk:
- Clear all walkways. Remove any furniture or electrical cords that you have to walk around or step over in main walkways. If you have floor rugs, secure them properly with double-sided tape to prevent slipping.
- Make sure all rooms are well-lit. Ensure hallways, stairways and all rooms are properly lighted. In the bedroom, put lamps near the bedside so they're easy to reach, and make sure the path from the bed to the bathroom is illuminated.
- Check indoor and outdoor stairs for safety. Steps should be in good repair and free of things you can trip over everything from papers and clothing items to loose carpet. Make sure there are illuminated light switches at the top and bottom of stairways, and handrails on both sides.
- Arrange kitchen items so they're within reach. Move things you use often to shelves that are waist high or lower. If you have to use a step stool, use one with a bar to hold on to, and never use a chair or other item as a step stool.
- Ensure bathrooms are safe. Put non-slip mats or strips in the shower or tub, and slip-resistant rugs outside the shower. Install grab bars for support in toilet or tub areas for added protection.
You can reduce your risk of fall-related injuries by making a few lifestyle changes and removing hazards from your home. The time you spend safety-proofing your home is well worth it to assure you can lead an active, independent life well into your golden years.
Lehigh Regional is an 88- bed hospital located on Lee Blvd., serving the residents of Lehigh Acres, LaBelle and Lee County. For more information visit www.LehighRegional.com or call (239) 369-2101.
Ever-changing advancements in health care allow us to live longer and improve our overall health. Providing the latest information about health advancements through monthly seminars and events is just one facet of Senior Extra. To sign up for a free membership, visit www.SeniorExtra.com.