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Botsford HealthSource Magazine
Your Car: A Surprising Fall Hazard
A recent study found that an estimated 37,000 people ages 65 and older are treated in emergency departments every year for injuries that occurred while getting in or out of a vehicle. And, more than 40 percent of these injuries are due to falls. Exiting the car, results showed, is more hazardous than entering it.
Mature adults more prone to falls
More than one-third of older U.S. adults fall every year. Why? Muscle weakness, vision changes, slower reflexes and balance problems are more common as we age. Some chronic diseases, as well as some medications, can also worsen these problems.
How to reduce your risk
Thankfully, falling is not an inevitable part of aging. To reduce your risk of falling, including when getting in or out of a vehicle:
Be aware of your surroundings. Uneven pavement and wet or slippery surfaces are all red flags for potential falls. Pay extra attention to your footing. Look at the curb height before stepping up or down. Wear low-heeled, rubber-soled shoes and consider using a cane or walker to help you feel steadier.
Exercise regularly. Be sure to include balance exercises in your regular routine, which build leg muscles and reduce the chance of falling. For example, take a tai chi class. Or, practice daily balance exercises in your home: While holding on to the back of a chair, stand on one leg for a minute. Then, switch to the other leg.
Check your meds. Have your doctor review your over-the-counter and prescription medications. Some medicines can cause negative side effects, such as dizziness, that can affect your balance.
Visit the eye doctor. Get your vision checked once a year. Even small changes can make a big difference in stability.
Team up with your doctor. Talk with your doctor about balance problems. And, always follow your medical treatment plan. The more you care for your overall health, the more likely you’ll reduce your chances of falling.