Falls can kill you. Here's how to minimize the risks.



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At the same time, there are ways to minimize the risk of dangerous falls, starting with regular exercise to maintain leg strength, balance, stamina and coordination, which can help you to "catch up" and to avoid a fall in case of a fall. Tai Chi is a great way to improve balance. Also practice standing on one foot when brushing your teeth, washing dishes or preparing a recipe. You can also get Carol Clements' new book, "A Better Balance for Life," which details a 10-week program to improve stability.

Have your eyes checked at least once a year or more often if your condition gradually worsens, such as cataracts or macular degeneration. Do not delay the recommended cataract surgery; Blurred vision can cause serious problems. Regularly update your prescription for corrective lenses. Older people often get better with single focal length lenses, which can mean two different pairs, one for distance and the other for reading, rather than one. pair of progressive or bifocal lenses.

Also get regular hearing tests and consider using hearing aids if needed. You do not want to be surprised by a fall from someone or something coming from behind.

Ask your doctor to review all your medications, prescription or over-the-counter, to determine their ability to cause dizziness or drowsiness. If possible, eliminate or reduce the dose of those potentially troublesome.

Dr. Leslie Kernisan, a geriatrician in the San Francisco Bay Area, lists medications that may pose a risk of falling: psychoactive drugs such as benzodiazepines (eg Xanax and Valium) and sleep medications such as Ambien and Lunesta affecting the brain; antidepressants like Prozac, Zoloft and Elavil; medications that lower blood pressure, including Flomax and related medications used to improve urination; drugs that lower blood sugar, including metformin; and anticholinergics such as Benadryl, "PM" versions of over-the-counter pain relievers, Flexeril muscle relaxant, and Ditropan and Detrol bladder relaxants.

Finally, but most importantly, do a thorough assessment of the risk of falling inside and outside your environment. Get rid of clutter – no books, papers, clothes or pet toys left on the floor or on furniture that partially obstruct access to the bathroom, bedroom, kitchen or bathroom. the entrance door Install railings on the stairs – and always use them – and support bars around the shower or bath and toilet.

Evaluate the safety of floors and floor coverings, including area rugs (a big no-no), loose carpets and raised edges between rooms. Use a high quality non-slip mat in the shower. Repair all broken and uneven stairs and floors. Keep electrical and telephone cables on the floor. Wipe up all spills immediately.

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