After age 65, you are at a higher risk for certain long-term diseases and infections as well as injuries from falls. Falls are a major cause of broken bones and head injuries in people who are older than age 65. Getting regular preventive care can help to keep you healthy and well. Preventive care includes getting regular testing and making lifestyle changes as recommended by your healthcare provider. Talk with your health care provider about:
- Which screenings and tests you should have. A screening is a test that checks for a disease when you have no symptoms.
- A diet and exercise plan that is right for you.
What should I know about screenings and tests to prevent falls?
Screening and testing are the best ways to find a health problem early. Early diagnosis and treatment give you the best chance of managing medical conditions that are common after age 65. Certain conditions and lifestyle choices may make you more likely to have a fall. Your healthcare provider may recommend:
- Regular vision checks. Poor vision and conditions such as cataracts can make you more likely to have a fall. If you wear glasses, make sure to get your prescription updated if your vision changes.
- Blood screening. Annual blood screening is recommended to detect any abnormalities in body function. Your healthcare provider can make recommendations for further investigations from the results of the blood tests.
- Medicine review. Work with your healthcare provider to regularly review all of the medicines you are taking, including over-the-counter medicines. Ask your healthcare provider about any side effects that may make you more likely to have a fall. Tell your healthcare provider if any medicines that you take make you feel dizzy or sleepy.
- Osteoporosis screening. Osteoporosis is a condition that causes the bones to get weaker. This can make the bones weak and cause them to break more easily.
- Blood pressure screening. Blood pressure changes and medicines to control blood pressure can make you feel dizzy.
- Strength and balance checks. Your healthcare provider may recommend certain tests to check your strength and balance while standing, walking, or changing positions.
- Foot health exam. Foot pain and numbness, as well as not wearing proper footwear, can make you more likely to have a fall.
- Depression screening. You may be more likely to have a fall if you have a fear of falling, feel emotionally low, or feel unable to do activities that you used to do.
What actions can I take to lower my risk of falls?
- Talk with your healthcare provider about your risks for falling. Tell your healthcare provider if:
- You fall. Be sure to tell your healthcare provider about all falls, even ones that seem minor.
- You feel dizzy, sleepy, or off-balance.
- Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your healthcare provider. These include any supplements.
- Eat a healthy diet and maintain a healthy weight. A healthy diet includes low-fat dairy products, low-fat (lean) meats, and fibre from whole grains, beans, and lots of fruits and vegetables.
- Remove any tripping hazards, such as rugs, cords, and clutter.
- Install safety equipment such as grab bars in bathrooms and safety rails on stairs.
- Keep rooms and walkways well-lit.
- Follow a regular exercise program to stay fit. This will help you maintain your balance. Ask your healthcare provider what types of exercise are appropriate for you.
- If you need a cane or walker, use it as recommended by your healthcare provider.
- Wear supportive shoes that have non-skid soles.
- Do not drink alcohol if your healthcare provider tells you not to drink.
- If you drink alcohol, limit how much you have:
- 0–1 drink a day for women.
- 0–2 drinks a day for men.
- Do not use any products that contain nicotine or tobacco, such as cigarettes and e-cigarettes. If you need help quitting, ask your healthcare provider.
- Having a healthy lifestyle and getting preventive care can help to protect your health and wellness after age 65.
- Screening and testing are the best way to find a health problem early and help you avoid having a fall. Early diagnosis and treatment give you the best chance for managing medical conditions that are more common for people who are older than age 65.
- Falls are a major cause of broken bones and head injuries in people who are older than age 65. Take precautions to prevent a fall at home.
- Work with your healthcare provider to learn what changes you can make to improve your health and wellness and to prevent falls.
This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your healthcare provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your healthcare provider.
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