You’re walking along, minding your own business, when suddenly you slip, trip, skip a step, walk on a banana peel, or just generally lose your balance. Your stomach flutters, your muscles tense anticipating the pain, possibly broken bones, and of course, the embarrassment. For minor falls, you jump up, brush yourself off, and look around to see how many people witnessed the event. You may laugh nervously, possibly curse the crack in the sidewalk, or confusedly look about for the cause of the accident.
Major falls, on the other hand, are no laughing matter. Sprains, strains, tears, cuts, bruises, fractures, concussions, broken bones, and even death can occur from a fall. Statistically, most falls occur at home and among the elderly who often suffer from hip fractures that require hip surgery. Orthopedic surgeons often see elderly patients for fractures and breaks, most often due to falls.
According to National Institute of Health’s Senior Health’s website, one out of every three 65 year olds fall every year. This is usually due to muscle weakness, balance issues, arthritis, osteoporosis, vision and hearing issues, uncontrolled blood pressure, medications, and even incontinence. While accidents happen all the time, but many occur when we are in a hurry, or not paying attention to our surroundings. Home factors for falls usually center on too much clutter, poor vision or lighting, lack of handrails, slippery areas, or loose rugs.
We all slip and fall at some point in our lives, but many falls can actually be prevented. The type of shoes we wear for different activities can be the main factor in staying safe, and upright. Shoes should fit well, be comfortable, and have non-skid soles. Shoes with laces should be laced tightly, but not so tight as to cut off circulation. For those with balance issues, wear non-skid slippers around the home, avoiding those that have a tendency to fall off the feet when walking.
Seniors can decrease their chances of falling by staying active, and exercising. When walking, be sure to pick your feet up off the ground, rather than dragging or shuffling. Be aware of your surroundings, use handrails when they are available, and try not to walk too fast or even too slow. Laurence Z. Rubenstein, from the UCLA School of Medicine and Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center in Sepulveda, California writes in the Oxford Journal that the elderly make up 13% of the population, and 75% of deaths due to falls occur in that age group. He states: “…about 1 in 40 of them will be hospitalized. Of those admitted to hospital after a fall, only about half will be alive a year later.”
Ironically, the older we become, the less aware we will be, at a time when it is most needed. If you suspect vision, bone, blood pressure, dementia, or any other problems in yourself or loved ones, seek out a doctor for a checkup. Get second and third opinions if needed to stay safe.
If you have hip pain or would like a second opinion, contact our specialists at Orthopedic Surgery San Diego today.