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Falls

close-focus on elderly female hand gripping a hand rail

As you get older, your chances of falling and breaking a bone or hitting your head increase. This is true for many reasons. For instance, age-related declines in vision, hearing, strength, and coordination can affect your balance. Certain medicines may make you feel dizzy. Also, like many older women, you may have osteoporosis. Osteoporosis makes your bones weak. This means that even a minor fall could leave you with a broken bone. Read on to learn more about preventing falls.

Injuries

Falls are the most common cause of injury and injury-related death among older adults. These injuries include not only broken bones, but also traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBI is brain damage caused by a sudden blow to the head — like a fall. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2005 alone, TBIs due to a fall caused nearly 8,000 deaths and 56,000 hospitalizations of Americans 65 and older.

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If you fall

If you do fall, don't panic! Do not try to get up too quickly or in the wrong position. This can make an injury worse. Remember, what you do after falling can cause more injuries than the fall itself!

Instead, take a few deep breaths and decide if you are hurt. If you think you are hurt, do not try to get up. Instead, call 911 or get help from a family member. But if you feel strong enough to get up, follow these steps:

  • If you can, crawl to a piece of stable furniture like a heavy chair, and pull yourself up. Face the front and put both hands on the seat.
  • Slowly, begin to get up. Bend the knee that feels the strongest. Keep the weaker knee on the floor.
  • Slowly turn around and sit in the chair.

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Content last updated: August 12, 2010.

Resources last updated: August 12, 2010.

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