Falling is common among older adults and seniors, and for people living with osteoporosis, falling often results in broken bones and fractures. Osteoporosis causes nearly 9 million fractures each year, meaning there is a fracture associated with osteoporosis every 3 seconds. Falling will result in fractures for 1 in 3 osteoporotic women over age 50 and 1 in 5 osteoporotic men over age 50.
|If you have osteoporosis, fall prevention is especially important because having more fragile bones puts you at higher risk of serious injury even from a minor fall.|
There are several steps you can take to reduce your risk of falling, which will improve your bone health, help you maintain independence, and improve your quality of life. Fall-proofing your home, regular exercise, medical interventions and wearing protective clothing are all essential to reducing your risk of falling.
Preventing Falls at Home
Your risk of falling could be increased by hazards in your home, including slippery floors, dim lighting, unsteady furniture, or lack of handrails to assist you in the bathroom or walking up stairs. Identifying and eliminating hazards in your home is a good first step toward reducing your risk of falling.
Some steps you can take to reduce your risk of falling at home include:
Remove items from the floor that can trip you over, such as throw rugs and electrical wires. Replace or repair frayed carpet and clear furniture out of walking paths. Avoid walking in socks or tights.
Ensure your home is well lit, especially in hallways, staircases, and outdoor areas. Install more lighting if necessary, and consider buying motion-activated lights.
|Installing handrails will make it safer for you to navigate the bathroom. Non-slip mats in the bath or shower will also reduce your risk of falling.|
Immediately mop up spills, and clean your floors using non-skid wax. Difficult-to-reach items on shelves make it easier to trip for everyone, not just seniors, so keep kitchen appliances you regularly use easily accessible.
Make sure handrails are secure and steady, and that your stairs are well-lit.
Balance and Strength-Training
Regular exercise will improve your strength and balance, and mitigate your risk of falling. You should aim to exercise with an emphasis on building muscle and improving balance 2-3 times each week.
Some exercises recommended for older adults living with osteoporosis include:
- Balance Exercise:
Yoga and Pilates are great for improving balance. Simply walking or standing on one leg also promotes good balance.
Studies have also shown that Tai Chi can help prevent falls among older adults. Tai chi is a martial art that emphasizes balance and coordination, and it is not as intensive as other martial arts that involve more physical contact and high impact movement, making it a great option for osteoporotic older adults and seniors.
- Muscle Resistance Exercise:
Using elastic resistance bands, weight machines, and light hand weights will improve muscle tone. Even standing or rising onto your toes from a standing or sitting position will assist in strengthening your muscles and preventing falls.
- Music-Based Exercise Programs:
Evidence suggests senior eurythmic exercises prevent age-induced physical decline in older adults, including for people living with osteoporosis.
- Online Osteoporosis Exercise Programs:
Check out Strong, Steady, Straight offered by the Royal Osteoporosis Society, or Too Fit to Fracture by Osteoporosis Canada for free exercise programs.
For a more comprehensive program catered to people living with osteoporosis, check out the Happy Bones Roadmap. Another great option for residents of New Jersey is Project Healthy Bones, which offers a 24-week education and exercise program for adults at risk of developing osteoporosis, or who already have osteoporosis.
- Programs Offered at Gyms and Community Centers
|Many local gyms, community centers and senior centers offer physical therapy programs for older adults. Ask your doctor about physical therapy available in your area.|
Talk to Your Doctor
It is important that you tell your doctor about any previous falls you have had, and to ask for advice on how to best manage osteoporosis.
- Medical advice:
Ask your doctor for further advice on what you can do to prevent falls, and ask for an overview of your individual risk of falling. Other medical conditions can amplify your risk of falling, including but not limited to dementia (Alzheimer’s), stroke, diabetes, low blood pressure, vision impairment, delirium, and neurological disorders.
- Schedule vision test:
Poor or declining vision increases your risk of falling, so it is important that you check your vision for conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts and age-induced macular degeneration.
|Some medications can increase your risk of falling, particularly if the medication affects your nervous system or blood pressure. Interactions between multiple medications can also compromise your balance and steadiness, increasing your risk of falling. Ask your doctor to evaluate your medications and any associated risk of falling.|
Protective Clothing and Gear
It is important to wear protective clothing to prevent falls and, in the event of a fall, prevent more harmful consequences of a fall. Some examples include:
- Supportive Footwear:
|Wear comfortable shoes that support your feet. A prominent heel and non-slip soles will keep you stable and balanced, helping prevent a fall.|
- Glasses and Sunglasses:
Ensure your glasses are clean and in good condition. If wearing bifocals, be careful when climbing stairs. Wear sunglasses outside to reduce glare.
- Hip Protection:
Evidence suggests external hip protectors can decrease your risk of hip fracture in the event of a fall. However, they are only effective if worn correctly, and many people find them awkward, bulky and unattractive, leading to inconsistent use and increased risk of fracture following a fall.
||Phoenix Hipwear offers a comfortable alternative to traditional hip protectors. Instead of wearing a hard, bulky and uncomfortable hip protector, Phoenix Hipwear’s shield is soft, light and flexible. Not only is Phoenix’s shield significantly more comfortable than traditional hip protectors, it is attractive and unnoticeable beneath clothing.|
There are many preventative steps you can take to reduce your risk of falling as you manage living with osteoporosis. Wearing a comfortable hip protector is one of the best ways you can protect yourself from the most serious effects of a fall. Phoenix Hipwear provides the highest levels of hip protection. Light and flexible shields paired with high quality, comfortable garments will give you peace of mind as you go about your day. Maintain your independence and live a healthy, active life with Phoenix Hipwear. Learn how to measure your hips today and get the perfect fit, and do not hesitate to contact us to get started living your best life with the highest quality hip protection!