Each month, a University of Virginia Health System geriatrician will discuss common health questions and challenges faced by seniors. This months topic: Preventing falls.
Over the next three months, well explore how to prevent falls and what to do if you start falling, as well as fractures caused by falls and devices to help you walk safely.
Q. Why do falls matter if I dont get hurt?
A. Falls or almost falls without injury are very important to note. They can be warning signs that youre getting weaker and warning signs that a bigger fall with serious consequences may be coming.
Q. How do I prevent falls?
A. As we age, we are at increased risk for falls for a variety of reasons, such as changes in balance, weakening legs, poor sensation in our feet and dehydration. We can even become dizzy from medicines or if we have wax impacted in our ears. So you need to talk to your doctor about these issues and work to see if any changes can be put in place to reduce your risk for falls.
Q. Why is hydration so important?
A. As we age, its a normal part of the changes in our body that we dont sense being thirsty the same way we did when we were younger. So its important to make staying hydrated a hobby. Staying well-hydrated is important to help prevent falls. Drinking a good amount of water can help prevent dehydration. Talk to your doctor about whats the right amount of water for you.
Q. Im losing weight without trying; is that OK?
A. Unintended weight loss is also a big warning sign for falls. If youre losing weight without trying to, youre likely losing weight from your muscles and your legs are becoming weaker. Getting good nutrition is important to help prevent falls. If youve noticed youre losing weight unexpectedly, discuss with your doctor why its happening and what to do about it.
A. Its critically important to talk with your doctor about any almost falls or dizziness, even when youre uninjured. Working with your doctor before an injury can help to prevent a big one.
Next months topic: What do I do if Ive been falling?
Dr. Laurie R. Archbald-Pannone is a geriatrician and associate professor of medicine at University of Virginia Health System. To schedule an appointment with a UVa geriatrician, call (434) 964-1333.
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Ask a Geriatrician: How can I prevent falls? - The Daily Progress
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