If you’re of a certain age, you may have been asked this question by your doctor: Have you fallen in the past year?
Falls among older adults are a serious health concern. One in 4 Americans ages 65 and older falls every year, and falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injury for this group.
Another reason falls are bad: Having fallen, and then fearing subsequent falls, can greatly limit seniors’ independence and quality of life, leading to less mobility and even depression.
The best thing to do is to talk to your doctor if you’re concerned you’re at risk for falls. Answer these questions to help spot warning signs:
True or false: You’ve fallen before.
True or false: You have muscle weakness, difficulty balancing or an inner ear disorder.
True or false: Your vision is poor or worsening.
True or false: You take one or several medications that may cause falls, such as antidepressants and sedatives.
True or false: You’re afraid to fall.
True or false: You have a chronic condition such as arthritis, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease or dementia.
True or false: At home, the stairs don’t have sturdy handrails and the bathtub doesn’t have grab bars.
True or false: Your lower body feels unsteady and weak.
True or false: You’ve been told you have a vitamin D deficiency.
True or false: Your home is dark and poorly lit.
The more “true” answers, the greater your risk. The good news is, a doctor can help you find many ways to lower your fall risk, including changing your medication, doing strengthening exercises and modifying your home. The risk of falling doesn’t have to limit your world.
Find out more about staying safe — including how to prevent falls and caring for an aging parent.