Thu 28 Nov 2013
Your physical health can affect your risk of tripping, slipping and falling. For instance, some medications can affect your alertness, judgment and co-ordination. Skipping meals and not drinking enough water can make you lightheaded and unsteady on your feet, especially in the hot summer months and after exercise. Poor eyesight can lead to dangerous stumbles. The good news is there are many simple things you can do to reduce your risk of falling and causing injury.
Talk to your medical doctor or pharmacist about any prescription medicines, over-the-counter products or herbal supplements you may be taking. Products can interact with each other, so it is important to talk to your health professional about all of the things you are taking. Some medicines and supplements can cause dizziness, weakness or other side effects that may increase your risk of slipping, tripping and/or falling. Advice from a health professional can reduce your risk.
Eyes and Ears
Your eyes and ears protect you from falling. For instance, your eyesight and hearing help alert you to hazards such as traffic and other dangers. Have your eyes and ears tested at least once every two years, preferably every year. Please remember to take off your reading glasses when you are walking and wear your hearing aid if you need one.
Skipping meals can cause dizziness and weakness. Eat regular, nutritious meals to stay alert and steady. The Canada Food Guide to Healthy Eating is a good source of information for adequate nutrition. You can find the Food Guide on the Health Canada website. It is also very important to drink enough non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated beverages, namely water.
Foot problems such as bunions, calluses, ingrown toenails and plantar warts contribute to unsteadiness as you have to compensate. If your feet hurt, you are probably walking gingerly to avoid the sore spots. A chiropractor can assess your gait, which is act of walking, and prescribe orthotics for your shoes if needed. Always wear good fitting and supportive shoes with non-slip soles.
Current Health Problems
Health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, anemia and low blood sugar can contribute to feelings of dizziness and faintness. Talk to your health professional about what you can do to manage the symptoms of these types of conditions.
Being active is one of THE best ways to reduce your risk of falls. Active people get more physical exercise and are more mentally alert. Social activities, sports and clubs all keep you on the move and that is good for your physical strength, balance and perception. Try to get at least 15 to 20 minutes of exercise at least three times a week, preferably every day. The Canada Physical Activity Guide to Healthy Active Living for Older Adults is a good source of information. You can also find this on the Health Canada website.
Moderation is a Key Element
Know your limits and watch your alcohol consumption. Alcohol affects your sight, hearing, balance and judgment. Alone or in combination with medications, drinking too much can lead to serious falls.
Remember, paying attention to a few simple details can really reduce your risk of injury due to a slip or fall. : )