Some of you may remember Elvis Costello singing, “I can’t stand up for falling down.”
Costello was singing about falling in love, but an actual lack of physical balance can be seriously frustrating, even dangerous. And if you find yourself off-balance lately, you’re not alone.
2 million adults from age 18 to 95 suffer from a fall that lands them in the emergency room. Out of this number, more than a third of them are adults over the age of 60.
The good news? Falls can be prevented with a few little changes to your daily routine.
Consider this: balance is chemically controlled by a small part of your cerebellum, but it’s your core muscles that hold you up against gravity – whether that’s maneuvering a staircase, standing on a moving surface (been on a cruise lately?), or navigating a difficult walkway. If your core muscles aren’t strong enough, it greatly affects your balance, leading to a higher fall risk.
So what can you do to avoid a dangerous fall?
First of all, start exercising regularly, if you don’t already. This doesn’t mean you need to start training for a marathon, but it does mean that you should seek out exercises that focus on core strength and balance. Yoga or Tai Chi are both good for this.
Secondly, if you’re taking medications, be aware of any side effects. Many prescribed medications, from anti-depressants to diabetic treatments, can cause dizziness or imbalance. If you suspect that your medicine is causing a loss of balance that makes it difficult for you to stand or walk, consult your physician.
And last but not least, eliminate obstacles in your home environment that could lead to a fall. Keep the walkways and floors of your home clutter-free, and install safety measures such as handrails for your stairways, tub mats for the bottom of your shower, and slip-proof backings to your rugs.
If you take the time to prepare your body and your environment, an injurious fall will be out of the question. Unless you’re falling in love, of course – no amount of tub mats will help with that!