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Living at Home: Living at Home reminds winter and aging brings increased risk of falls

Judi Frye

As winter settles in around us, we turn more of our attention to the weather outside. We watch road reports to see how or if we should drive. We watch the thermometer to see how to dress. We sprinkle salt or sand on our sidewalks in hopes of avoiding a fall.

Avoiding a fall is not only an outside winter issue to watch for. In my last column I talked about planning ahead and touched a bit on modifying your home to avoid falls.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, each year, one in every three adults age 65 and older falls.

In 2010, 2.3 million nonfatal fall injuries among older adults were treated in emergency departments and more than 662,000 of these patients were hospitalized.

What can cause a fall? It's not always the obvious. SeniorAbilitiesUnlimited. com lists the following nine main causes:

n Environmental - Low chairs, throw rugs and poor lighting can all increase a person's risk for falls.

n Vision - Poor vision may be a result of out-of-date prescription lenses

n Hearing - Those with a hearing loss also have an increased risk of falling.

n Medications - Many medications have the side effect of dizziness or light-headedness that can lead to a fall.

n Blood pressure - Transitional movements, such as standing quickly or going from lying down to sitting up, can cause light-headedness due to a drop in your blood pressure (postural hypotension).

n Inner ear dysfunction/ vestibular disorder - Crystals in your inner ear help to maintain balance. The crystals can become displaced in many different ways.

n Fear of falling - The actual fear of falling increases ones risk of falling.

n Balance - As we age, we need to retrain our bodies on how to maintain balance.

n Weakness - Weakness in the person's legs, arms and trunk leads to gait difficulties.

Their website also has a printable Safety Environment Checklist that can give tips on what to check in your home. Main message here.... You can never be too safe.

Lastly, on behalf of the staff and board at Living at Home of the Park Rapids Area, we want to extend the blessings of this wonderful season to each and every one of you.

'The earth has grown old with its burden of care but at Christmas it always is young. The heart of the jewel burns lustrous and fair and its soul full of music breaks the air when the song of angels is sung.'

~ Phillips Brooks

Merry Christmas!

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