Osteoporosis care is about preventing bone fractures. Fractures can be mainly prevented by keeping bones healthy and avoiding falls. Alarmingly, falls are becoming a serious issue, as showcased in the New York Times this week . Here are important take-home messages about falls!
FALLS ARE COMMON AND CAN HURT US BADLY
Falls can cause fractures especially in people with weak bones (osteoporosis). In Canada, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men will suffer from fractures due to osteoporosis, most of which occur after a fall. For some, these fractures can be catastrophic, especially when pelvis or thigh bones are involved, and result in a long and difficult recovery that often includes:
WE UNDERESTIMATE FALLS
As we get older, we do not, or refuse to, recognize our physical changes. For example, the video below shows what stairs look like to people with aging vision. With older age, our bodies also get worse at maintaining bone and muscle health, balancing and avoiding falls. Unfortunately, this is when falls become more catastrophic, because our landing is less graceful and our bones are weaker and more prone to break.
Source: “Bracing for the Falls of an Aging Nation“ New York Times
THERE ARE MANY WAYS TO PREVENT FALLS
1. We can change our mindset
The first step to preventing falls is to accept that as we age our physical strength, balance, eyesight and reflexes gradually diminish. This may help us take measures to protect ourselves and our loved ones from falling. We also need to realize that preventing falls is not simply about being more careful – certain preventative measures need to be taken.
2. We can take preventative measures
• Learn about falls prevention or attend falls prevention program
• Get eyesight checked regularly
• Prevent having a low blood pressure, if applicable, by drinking enough water
• Talk to a doctor to see if any medications are causing dizziness or slowing reaction time
• Participate in regular exercise that helps improve body’s balance like tai chi
3. We can address our falling hazards
Various things in our environment, at home and outside, pose serious tripping and falling hazards. We should always carefully check for the following hazards, and eliminate them or approach them with extra care:
WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE?
• New York times article: “Bracing for the Falls of an Aging Nation”
• Osteoporosis Canada: falls prevention education and toll-free phone line
• University Health Network: falls prevention program
• Comment below to help us answer your question(s)
WHAT SHOULD I DO?
By Dr Luba Slatkovska