More than one-third of adults ages 65 and older fall each year, and 20 to 30 percent suffer moderate to severe injuries. Older adults are hospitalized for fall-related injuries five times more often than for any other cause, but falls and related injuries are not a normal consequence of aging.
To reduce your risk of falling, get regular physical activity. That strengthens muscles, and increases endurance and flexibility. For example, a Tai Chi program produced a 55 percent reduction in participant falls.
Find out about the possible side effects of medicines you take. Do they affect your balance or coordination, or cause confusion, dizziness, or sleepiness? Bring your over-the-counter and prescribed medicines (as well as herbal products, minerals, or vitamins) with you when you see a doctor.
Some people experience a drop in blood pressure when they stand up. Check your blood pressure and pulse after you have been lying down for at least 5 minutes, and again after you get up. Drinking more water, getting up more slowly, pumping your feet or hands before getting up, or wearing special stockings can help.
Have your vision checked regularly, or if you think it has changed. Even small changes can make you less stable. Wear your eyeglasses, keep them clean, and check that the frames are straight. When you get new glasses, be careful while you are adjusting to the change. If you use reading glasses or multi-focal lenses, take them off when you walk.
The soles of our feet have nerves to help us judge the position of our bodies so our feet need to be in touch with the ground, and our shoes need to stay on securely. Wear sensible, low-heeled shoes that fit well. There should be no marks on your feet when you take off your shoes and socks. Choose shoes with non-slip soles. Wearing only socks, or backless slippers or shoes may be unsafe.
Another way you can protect yourself is by learning what Medicare does not cover so you’re prepared to handle medical costs if you do fall. At MediGap Advisors, we can help you get into the right Medicare Supplement Plan (also called Medigap Insurance) at the best price so you won’t have to handle expenses that Medicare does not cover alone. You can use our Medigap “How To” Guide, or call us at 866-323-1441 for a no cost Medigap consultation. We’ll answer your questions, and help you compare Medicare Supplement Plans so you’re prepared.