In November, 2015, when my neighbor Lucas was 8 years old, his parents placed this piece of his artwork on their front door. His art periodically decorates their front door and it always makes me smile. I grew up in the Midwest and autumn, or fall, has always been my favorite season. This time, when I read, "Happy Fall", I had a different reaction.
Most of my students are older adults and for most older adults, the thought of "fall" is anything but happy. Later our lives, maybe after age fifty or sixty, we become very aware of the multitude of negative consequences that can come with a fall. For most of us, when we were younger, we didn't give falling a second thought. If we fell, we got up and went on with life. It was no big deal and maybe we earned a scar that had a great back story. For older adults, a fall can mean a series of life-changing events.
The natural impacts of aging include decreased vision, slower reflexes, diminished strength and poor coordination and balance -- a dangerous mix that increases the risk of stumbling or falling.
Here are some tips to avoid falls from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
» Begin a regular exercise routine. Activities that improve balance and coordination, like tai chi, are most helpful.
» Have a health care provider review your medications. Some medicines, or combinations of medications, can make you sleepy or cause dizziness.» Visit an eye doctor at least once a year to review eyeglass prescriptions and check for cataracts, glaucoma and other conditions that limit vision.
» Get up slowly after you sit or lie down.
» Wear shoes both inside and outside the house; avoid going barefoot or wearing slippers.