Preventing falls as you age: What are the risks, tips to improve balance

Preventing falls and staying on your feet becomes more difficult as we age but there are steps that can be taken to protect ourselves and others.

Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among those 65 and older, according to Dr. Maria Granzotti, chief medical officer for Tivity Health.

“One out of four older people falls each year. That number is very large,” she said.

Once an individual does experience a fall, their chances of falling again nearly doubles. “It’s a massive, massive issue,” Granzotti added.

Less than half of those who do experience a fall tell their doctor.

One’s surroundings play a major role when it comes to the cause of falls, Granzotti said. The home environment presents many risks, like stairs and pets. Over 60% of falls happen at home.

Another factor is as we age, our strength, balance, awareness and mobility decrease.

“Decreases in your hearing, decreases in your vision, all those things can increase your risk of falls,” said Granzotti.

She encourages people on medication to talk to their health care providers about increased risks. Granzotti also said fitness programs like SilverSneakers or daily balance and strengthening exercises make a big difference.

“You can progress and get better every day,” she said. “Sometimes just walking different paths or longer paths is appropriate.”

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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