Preventing home falls

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:49 pm
Every year, a large number of people over the age of 70 take a fall, and many those hospitalized never regain their former level of independence. Elderly people tend to be susceptible to falls for a number of reasons, including failing eye sight, hearing loss, arthritis, problems of coordination, and certain neurological disorders associated with aging. However, many falls can be prevented with an awareness of health limitations and some simple changes in the home environment. To begin with, it's a good idea to have your vision and hearing checked regularly, exercise, avoid alcohol, and discuss with your physician whether any medications you're taking may affect your balance or coordination. Getting up slowly can help prevent dizziness from a drop in blood pressure, and a cane or walker and low-heeled shoes can help you to better maintain your balance. In addition, you should make sure your house is well-lighted, keep frequently-used items in easy-to-reach places, tack down loose rugs, and install grab rails and nonskid mats in your bathrooms. If you believe that you're at risk for a fall, you should have friends or neighbors check on you daily, place phones throughout your house in easily accessible places, and wear an emergency alert device. For more information about precautions that can be taken to prevent falls, contact a physician.

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