Falls are serious at any age, and breaking a bone after a fall becomes more likely as a person ages. Many of us know someone who has fallen and broken a bone. While healing, the fracture limits the person’s activities and sometime requires surgery.
Several factors can lead to a fall. Loss of footing or traction is a common cause of falls. Loss of footing occurs when there is less than total contact between one’s foot and the ground or floor. Loss of traction occurs when one’s feet slip on wet or slippery ground or floor.
Examples of loss of traction include tripping, especially over uneven surfaces such as sidewalks, curbs, or floor elevations that result from carpeting, risers, or scatter rugs. Loss of footing also happens from using household items intended for other purposes – for example, climbing on kitchen chairs or balancing on boxes or books to increase height.
Also when people age, their reflexes slow down. Reflexes are automatic responses to stimuli in the environment. Examples of reflexes include quickly slamming on the car brakes when a child runs into the street or quickly moving out of the way when something accidentally falls. Aging slows a person’s reaction time and makes it harder to regain one’s balance following a sudden movement or shift of body weight.
Although most serious falls happen when people are older, steps to prevent and treat bone loss and falls can never begin too early. Many people begin adulthood with less than optimal bone mass, so the fact that bone mass or density is lost slowly over time puts them at increased risk for fractures.
Bones that once were strong become so fragile and thin that they break easily. Activities that once were done without a second thought should now be avoided for fear that they will lead to another fracture.
Safety first to prevent falls: At any age, people can change their environments to reduce their risk of falling and breaking a bone.
Outdoor safety tips:
Indoor safety tips:
Men and women up to age 50 should consume a calcium-rich diet that provides between 1,000 mg (milligrams) daily. Women over age 50 and men over age 70 should increase their intake to 1,200 mg daily from a combination of foods and supplements.
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