How can I reduce my chances of falling and having a fracture?

Osteoporosis by itself does not cause fractures; it raises the likelihood of a bone breaking. We have already reviewed ways to increase bone strength by adequate calcium, vitamin D intake and exercise. Physical forces like a fall on a fragile hip or a golf swing on a weakened spine challenge a bone to withstand more pressure than it can bear. Most of the time, we bounce right up after losing our balance. Other times a fall may result in permanent disability or a shortened life span. Many of the 11 million annual falls (that is about 1 out of every 3 people) in the over-65 age group are avoidable; 3,000 men and women senior citizens fell while standing on chairs last year. The chances of a fall increase as age advances. Falls become more common due to less coordination and muscle strength, slowed reflexes, decreased vision and altered balance. It is important to talk to your health professional regarding your medical conditions and/or medications that might increase your chance of a fall.

Ways to avoid falls at home (75% of all falls):

  • Use good lighting-also, leave a night light on.
  • If you are advised to use a cane or walking aid, use it.
  • Keep clutter including houseplants, magazine racks, foot rests, boxes, and newspapers off the main traffic areas.
  • Remove throw rugs.
  • Replace worn carpet. Rugs should be firmly fastened.
  • Avoid loose electrical cords.
  • Repair broken steps indoors or outdoors.
  • Get up slowly after lying down.
  • Sit if you feel dizzy. store items you use frequently waist high.
  • Wear rubber soled low-heeled shoes. Wear slippers or shoes with non-skid bottoms around the house.
  • Exercise regularly to maintain strength, flexibility and coordination.
  • If it is difficult to stand, try a firmer furniture and mattress, higher toilet stool or shower stool.
  • If you do fall even if there appears to be little or no injury, contact your health care professional immediately.