Strengthen your bones
Maintaining healthy bones won’t prevent a fall but doing so may prevent injury, or even death, if you do fall.
- Get enough calcium. Women over 50 should consume 1,000 mg of calcium a day and men over 70 should consume 1,200 mg. High-calcium foods include low-fat dairy products; dark, leafy green vegetables (broccoli, kale, bok choy); tofu; sardines and salmon with bones; almonds; and calcium-fortified foods like orange juice and cereal. Remember to get your fill of vitamin D, too, which helps the body absorb calcium.
- Exercise at least 30 minutes each day. Physical activity, such as lifting weights or walking, improves bone and muscle strength.
- Quit smoking and limit alcohol. Smoking and heavy alcohol consumption can decrease bone mass, which increases the risk of fractures.
Consider a device
If you feel unstable when you walk, you may want to try a cane or walker. Meet with a physical therapist for help choosing the best device for you, getting fitted and learning how to use it. Canes come in different lengths, grips and shapes. Walkers provide a wider base of support and come with a variety of wheel/brake combinations as well as accessories, such as baskets. Another tool you may want to consider is a reacher or grabber, which helps you pull lightweight items from high shelves and off the ground, so you don’t have to stand on a stool or bend over.
Fall-proof your house
Sixty percent of falls happen at home, and many accidents are preventable. Follow these 10 easy tips to create a safer environment.
- Secure carpet and rugs to the floor.
- Immediately clean up spills and avoid wet floors.
- Remove clutter or anything that could cause tripping, such as pet bowls or small furniture.
- Tame loose cords.
- Store frequently accessed items in easy-to-reach places.
- Install staircase railings.
- Mount grab bars in the bathroom.
- Improve lighting, especially over the stairs and next to the bed.
- Arrange furniture so that you have plenty of space to walk.
- Avoid going out alone in the snow or ice.
If you’re concerned about falling, consider a fall prevention program. Speak with your doctor to find out if there are any available in your community.