For those ages 65 and older, nearly one in three individuals will fall each year. After age 85, 1 out of every 2 individuals will fall. In 2007, falls accounted for 44% of injury deaths; 76% of non-fatal injury hospitalizations. These numbers are enough to get even the calmest person steamed. We don’t like seeing anyone get upset over something a little action can prevent. Therefore, we have prepared a help guide to assist families around this potential problem.
First, are you or your loved one at risk of falling? While considering the following list ask yourself how many apply to you or your loved one?
If you checked off two or more of these factors, then a risk for falling exist. A little action can improve ones odds of avoiding being a statistic. As stated, this topic can get the calmest person steamed; so, I thought what better way to remember how to avoid falls than getting STEAMED right up front.
S: Strength—exercise and stay active. By building your strength, you are preparing your body to better control your balance and coordination. Some have suggested Tai Chi as one means of getting the necessary exercise in a low impact way.
T: Talk before you walk—you should be talking to your doctor, pharmacist, family, and friends. Tell people your concerns so they can be looking out for you. Everyone approaches life different; what they see you might not see.
E: Environment—limit those things in your life that can lead to falls. Take the list above and look around where you are and look for warning signs. In fact, make it a game and see who can spot the most hazards (lawyers are often accused of doing this already).
A: Ask for help—it seems to be human nature to resist the simple habit of asking for help. However, I have never witnessed a person asking for help and not getting it. If you need help getting up or sitting down or balancing yourself, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
M: Medications—taking multiple medications can increase your risk for falls. Also certain medications by their function or design can increase your risk for falls (i.e. sleeping pills, blood pressure medications, water pills, and pain medicine.).
E: Exam—get your eyes checked regularly. Also stay on top of your other vitals such as blood pressure and sugar. Do not solely rely on your annual visit with the doctor. Learn the warning signs of a problem and/or what test can be done at home and just DO IT!
D: Diet—staying on a healthy diet will help maintain a healthy body so you are able to exercise, avoid fluctuations in blood pressure and diabetes. Find a diet that you can enjoy and stay with it.
 From the Office of Vital Statistics, Florida Department of Health, and the Gulf Coast Falls Prevention Coalition.
Jason A. Waddell is a Board Certified Florida Elder Law Attorney who practices on the Panhandle of Florida.