Drs. Oz & Roizen's Tip of the Day: Be diligent in preventing falls

King Features SyndicateDecember 11, 2013 

Falling in love, falling asleep, falling into place - sometimes the idea of falling is, as Martha Stewart often says, "a very good thing."

But for more than 33 percent of folks age 65 and older who take a tumble each year, it can cause big trouble. For example, almost all hip breaks are from falls, and 20 percent of people who break their hip die within a year of the injury.

The most common reasons for falls are weak leg muscles; problems with gait, caused perhaps by arthritis or foot and back problems; and dizziness when standing, triggered by high or low blood pressure, inner ear or neurological problems, and medication reactions. Impaired vision can contribute.

Fortunately, if you're one of the 35 million North American seniors with a balance problem, there's a lot you can do to prevent falls.

• Half of all falls take place at home, so do a house check. Remove or correct any hazards, such as loose area rugs and uneven floors; upgrade lighting to eliminate dark corners or poorly lit stairs; put hand rails on stairs; and identify trouble areas in the bathroom.

• Improve your balance. Develop a muscle-strengthening exercise routine (it can be chair-based), start walking 30 minutes a day, play ping-pong or practice tai chi.

"Talk to your doctor about your medications and side effects that may make you wobbly. You might want to adjust or change meds.

• And take care when using walkers or wheelchairs, especially when getting in or out of them.

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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