Preventing Falls (For The Sake Of Your Brain)

January 28, 2010 at 5:13 pm 1 comment

Watch Your Step: Preventing Falls in Seniors - image by harry_lund  on Stock.Xchng For Many Seniors, taking a tumble is all too common an experience. And though bruises and broken bones are the biggest and most immediate concerns, falling can put your brain-health in jeopardy, too.

Head injury is the most obvious risk; concussions can have both short and long term affects on cognitive functions like memory and decision making.  A knock on the noggin increases the likely hood of developing Alzheimer’s.  And even minor brain injuries often affect balance, putting patients at risk of even more falls.

Broken bones put the brain at risk, too; blood clots and strokes are common in people who are temporarily immobilized by many injuries.  And immobilization itself isn’t good for the brain, which needs physical activity to stimulate the protection of existing neurons and the production of new brain cells.  And serious falls are a common cause for loss of independence in seniors, which in turn causes stress, depression and a sense of isolation, all of which contribute to poor cognitive functions.

Another link between falls and brain health? The more fit your brain is, the less likely you are to fall!

So how can you minimize your risks?

The CDC’s National Center For Injury Prevention And Control offered 4 areas to look at for fall reduction:

  1. Engage In Regular Exercise Physical exercise improves your strength, balance and coordination, reducing your falling risk considerably. The weaker you are physically, the less able you are to catch yourself if you trip or lose your balance.  And exercise is a big plus when it comes to overall brain fitness, too.  Consider exercise programs that work develop balance and coordination: Tai Chi, Yoga, training with light weights are all good choices for reducing the risk of falls.. but as always, check with your doctor before making any changes to your routine, or starting a new program.
  2. Fall-Proof Your HomeMany falls occur at home, and the risk can be reduced by taking a few precautions.  Remove small throw rugs, and use double sided tape on the edges of those you don’t remove.  Keep walkways, steps and stairs clear of loose items like shoes, books or papers.  Wear quality shoes that support your feet; avoid flip-flops, slippers and shoes with thick soles.  Install grab bars and extra lighting in high risk areas like toilets, showers, and staircases.   Avoid step-stools, and rearrange cabinets so you won’t need to stand tiptoe to reach things you need.And don’t be ashamed to use a cane or walker for extra balance at home, or when out in public – that extra little support may keep you from taking a frightening fall!
  3. Have Your Medications Checked Regularly Many medications (especially in combination) can cause issues with balance, light-headedness, or  weakness, increasing your risk of a fall.  So ask your doctor or pharmacist to look over the list of everything you take, even occasionally: don’t leave out over-the-counter medicines and any herbal or other supplements.Additionally, keep an eye on your blood pressure, especially if you’re on medication for it.  Dosages sometimes need adjusting, and if the amounts aren’t just right, your blood pressure can drop dangerously low, making you dizzy and at risk for a fall.
  4. Mind Your Vision!Have your eyes checked regularly; not being able to see the floor clearly can cause you to catch a foot on a rug, step, or small item in your path.  Eyeglass prescriptions need changing frequently, or can be damaged by scratches and peeling anti-glare film that obscures vision. And conditions like glaucoma or cataracts can develop so slowly that you don’t notice your decreased vision until you find yourself tripping over items in your way.And consider improving the lighting in your house – nearly everyone needs more light to see clearly as we age.  Make sure hallways, bathrooms and pathways through your house are well lit.  Consider keeping a small flashlight at your bedside to light your way at night, or use a walker or cane that also has a light on it.

Any other suggestions for reducing the risk of falling?

Please share! Granted, it’s not a “fun” topic, but it is an important one!
Take steps to avoid falls, and your brain will thank you.

Entry filed under: Be Physically Active!. Tags: , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Betty Perkins-Carpenter, PhD  |  February 24, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    EVERYONE out there in twitter land there is a new balance and fall prevention system called “6 Step Balance System” that has been proven (evidenced based) to significantly reduce injuries and death caused by accidental falls. IT IS SAVING LIVES ACROSS THE COUNTRY. It is so popular because it works right into activities of daily living, doesn not require transportation and is inter-generational and FUN. It has been endorsed from a number of respected physicians from prestigious organizations, which give a high degreee of credibility to my system. So lets learn more about how you all can do the “10 Martini Slump” and “Dancing With Your Pillow” steps at http://www.howtopreventfalls.com or http://www.senior-fitness.com

    Reply

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About This Blog


A healthy mind and brain is key to a healthy, active life. Come along for the ride as we explore the basics of brain health, with topics including:
  • Physical Exercise
  • Cognitive Training
  • Stress Management
  • Social Interaction
  • Sleep
  • Nutrition
  • A Sense of Purpose & Connection
Authored by Tori Deaux
Sponsored by Dakim Brain Fitness

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