Older adults, younger children and women reported suffering the most injuries, but all folks of all ages are at risk. Stairs are a common source of injury among all ages.
The study noted that around half of all homes in the States contain stairs and that costs associated with falls down stairs add up to around $92 billion annually. The former wife of Donald Trump reportedly died from such fall.
Among the most common causes of falls on stairs are the following: Slippery steps; liquid pooled on steps; torn carpets; poor lighting; unsafe handrails; uneven or missing steps; clutter on the staircase; attempting to carry an object or objects; improper footwear; and distraction or inattention while traversing stairs
The older we get, the more at risk we all become to falls.This is the main reason why our house in San Agustin has no second floor and we also built ramps to facilitate movement in a wheelchair, if necessary.
Our bones aren’t the only things we injure when we fall: Doctors also say falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.
Among the conditions that can affect your balance and increase your risk for falling are vitamin D deficiency, the (over)use of certain medications (including tranquilizers, sedatives, painkillers and/or antidepressants), vision problems and home hazards (such as loose carpet or throw rugs and slippery floors and bathrooms).
In addition, without a regular and targeted exercise program designed to improve balance, flexibility and functional strength, you’ll lose muscle mass every year.
Losing muscle mass as you age decreases your ability to handle routine aspects of life, such as carrying groceries, performing household chores, getting in and out of cars, and the like.
But there are ways to mitigate your risk factors. One way is to improve your balance.
Balance is a skill so working on it is something we should all do regularly. You can work on improving your balance at home with a few simple exercises.
Just standing on a single leg is an excellent way to improve balance. This exercise strengthens your ankles, improves your balance and engages your core.
The first time you do it, be sure you’re next to a wall or other surface that you can use for support if you need it.
As you begin to improve your leg strength and balance, you can try more challenging exercises on slightly unstable surfaces that you can create at home by rolling up a yoga mat or large towel.
Balance training is just as important as strength training. Improving your overall balance can help prevent falls, promote better posture and make you more coordinated. Of course, before embarking on any new exercise program, especially for seniors,, consult your own physician. By Manny Palomar, PhD (EV Mail December 5-11, 2022 issue)