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,” says 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 advises 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, Katz says. 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 recommends. “It’s a mistake to think that staying home and not being active will reduce your risk. 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 adds that cultivating flexibility, strength and balance through a daily exercise routine also can help decrease the risk of falling.
Do you have a health-related question for a WMCHealth physician or specialist? Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, with “Just the Facts” in the subject heading. Your question may be featured in a future issue.