Falling over as we age, shouldn’t be taken as a given!

“Put that light out!” – No keep it on. We can do a lot to prevent falls as we age.

I was with my mum at the weekend. It was around 7.30 am and the sun was still poking it’s head over the horizon. Walking into the kitchen I turned the light on.

“We don’t need the light on” said my mum “I can see okay.” My mother grew up in a thrifty age when the lights only went on when night time descended.  A little gloom was no excuse for electric light. But while she can see to potter around at waist height and above, her vision isn’t what it was and the opportunity to trip over something unseen on the floor is a very real risk.

You may remember the Dad’s Army character Mr Hodges, telling people to “Put that light out!” Well as we get older and our sight begins to fade the mantra needs to be keep those lights on.

“You don’t want to fall and break a hip” I said in my best headmaster tones.

My mother hadn’t thought of that, what’s the cost of a little extra electric against the cataclysmic cost of breaking a hip?

I was reminded of this, this morning on reading a post by the British Geriatric Society on the effects of heart conditions on falls. As the article said, there seems to be a common perception that as we age we’re bound to fall over. its part of getting old. But this needn’t be the case. If you:

Have weak muscle strength in your legs
Have problems with your balance
Take four or more prescription medications

Then your risk of a fall are considerably enhanced. All of these issues can be addressed to reduce the risk. The BGS have now suggested we should also consider whether  falls can be associated with a faint caused by a heart condition, which could be treated, so you don’t fall!  Falling is not an inevitable part of growing old.

Listening on the radio to Judith Kerr – author of the Tiger who came to tea and Hitler stole Pink Rabbit, on how wonderful it was she was still writing at the age of 92. “Not at all” she said “I just do what all 90 year olds do” – was a great reminder that growing old doesn’t mean decrepitude.

Posted in Health

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