From the Office of the Parish Nurse
Each year, falls send 2.8 million Americans to the emergency rooms. You may be more vulnerable to falls if arthritis has made your gait wobbly, says physiatrist Levan Atanelov MD, who works with individuals and institutions to reduce fall risks.
A comprehensive strategy can keep you in step.
Tidy Up Eliminate tripping hazards in the home by keeping clutter to a minimum. Tape down rugs, “Or better yet, throw them out,” says Dr. Atanelov.
Lighten Up Keeping your home well-lit can prevent stumbling over the cat or ottoman. Bathroom visits in the wee hours are a major cause of falls, says Dr. Atanelov, so keep that critical pathway illuminated with night lights.
Get Support Install a slip-proof bathmat and grab bars in your bathroom. Raised toilet seats and shower chairs can reduce falls, too. Staircases should be in good repair and have handrails.
Tune In keeping focused and alert to your environment is particularly important when you’re out and about, advises Dr. Atanelov, who says that unnoticed sidewalk curbs are a common cause of falls.
Head Off Head Rushes Orthostatic hypotension is a condition that makes blood pressure drop when you stand, causing lightheadedness and increasing the risk for falls by 73%, according to a review in the May 2019 issue of The Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. Ask your doctor if any drugs you take (especially blood pressure medications) might be causing lightheadedness. Other triggers include dehydration, so drink plenty of water.
Better Your Balance Regular physical activity, including strength training will help keep you upright, but balance exercises are most important for preventing falls, says Dr. Atanelov.
Get Assessed If you have fallen twice or more in the past year, needed medical care for a fall or feel unsteady on your feet, the American Geriatric Society recommends asking your doctor about having a comprehensive assessment of your fall risk.
Resource: Arthritis Today/Timothy Gower