The possibility of a fall worries most older adults and their families, and for good reason. Falls are the most common cause of non-fatal injury for seniors, often causing hospitalization and interfering with an independent lifestyle. Find out if the time is right to take steps to minimize your risk:
■ Have you fallen in the last 12 months?
■ Do you often have difficulty seeing clearly?
■ When seated, do you have difficulty getting up to a seated position?
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■ When you stand up, do you sometimes feel light headed, dizzy or off-balance?
■ Do you take four or more medications each day, including remedies from the health food or drug store?
■ Are you depressed, or do you feel "down" or "blue"?
■ Is it sometimes hard to walk because you feel stiff or weak, or because your feet hurt?
■ Do you make frequent or hurried trips to the bathroom?
■ Do you limit your activities because you are afraid you might fall?
■ At home, is it sometimes difficult to move around safely because items you need are hard to reach or have to be carried down the stairs?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, it might be time to talk to your health care provider and develop a plan to address three important questions:
1. How can I minimize my fall risk?
2. What is the safest way for me to get up from a fall?
3. What is the best thing for me to do if I can't get up and call for help after a fall?
There are many personal emergency response services, also known as medical alert devices, available that provide quick access to help at the push of a button, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. These devices can help address the growing concern of many seniors who live alone and are prone to falls.
Newer to the market are personal help buttons that will automatically place a call for help when a fall is detected should you be unable to press your button yourself. There are even providers locally that offer these services without contract requirements and do not charge installation fees.
Taking precautions today can ensure a safe, healthy lifestyle tomorrow.