How can I help prevent falls?
This is an important question if you have osteoporosis. Normal bones should not break when you fall from a standing position, but bones that have been weakened by osteoporosis may break more easily. Of course, you should follow the usual prevention and treatment steps of getting enough calcium
, vitamin D
and weight-bearing exercise
, but there are additional things you can do. These include improving your strength and balance, "fall-proofing" your home and avoiding medications that might interfere with your balance and alertness.
Can balance be improved?
Yes, balance is like many things, it must be exercised to keep it at its best. It can be improved just like muscle strength even in your senior years. Poor balance may lead you to restrict your activities and make it more difficult for you to exercise. An inactive lifestyle can lead to even more bone loss. Your healthcare provider can refer you for a special physical therapy program to evaluate and improve your balance.
How can medications lead to falls?
Many common medications can have an effect on your ability to maintain your balance. Blood pressure medications, sleeping pills and antidepressants are just a few. If you have symptoms such as light-headedness and dizziness, it is important to report these to your doctor. Review your medication list with your doctor regularly, and if you begin a new medication, be alert for possible side effects. Sometimes small changes can make a big difference. An example would be: if your blood pressure medication makes you unsteady when you change position from lying down to standing, take a minute to sit before rising.
Where can I learn how to "fall-proof" my home?
Look at each room carefully for fall hazards. Check for poor lighting, loose electrical cords, clutter and throw rugs. Clean up wet spots on the floors in kitchens and bathrooms right away. Handrails should be found on stairways and in the bathroom near the tub and commode. Use night lights and keep the path to the bathroom clear. Arrange storage so that the things that you use the most often are easily reached. Pets are good for your health, but watch carefully so you don't trip over them. If you use a walker or a cane, be sure to keep it within reach instead of using furniture to steady yourself. Outside your home, remember porches and stairs can be slippery in the winter. Wet grassy slopes are also a common fall hazard.