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It has happened to all of us (even the most well coordinated). You are walking, sun is shining, IPod playing, smiling to your fellow walkers who too are enjoying their walks. Then suddenly and without warning, you lose your footing and ungracefully tumble to the ground. After a quick but covert look around to see if anyone witnessed the spill, you shake it off, re-insert your headphones, and again, you are off walking, having suffered little more than a temporarily bruised ego.

Unfortunately, something as simple as an unintentional fall can actually result in serious injury or even death, particularly for those over the age of 65. And, whether you are a senior citizen or are close to someone in their golden years, you cannot turn a blind eye to these statistics on falls.

More than one-third of adults age 65 and older fall at least once each year.

Falls are the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma among adults over 65. And, alarmingly, every 35 minutes an older American dies as the result of a fall.

It is no wonder that the final week of June 2008, which Congress designated as National Safety Month, has been dedicated to fall prevention: in the workplace and for senior citizens.

It simply cannot be denied that the odds of falling and the severity of the injuries increase as we age. Physical changes and medical conditions are major factors causing this increased risk. But, don’t despair. There are preventative measures that senior citizens can and should take to help reduce the risk of falling.

The CDC suggests:

1. Beginning a regular exercise program: it makes you stronger and improves overall health. Be sure to consult with a physician before beginning an exercise program.

2. Making your home safer: about half of all falls happen at home. For example, you should remove things that you could easily trip over, and you should keep your home well lit.

3. Having your health care provider review your medicines: some medicines affect us differently as we age, and some make us drowsy, which increases the likelihood of falling.

4. Having your vision checked: poor vision can increase the risk of falling.

In addition, the Mayo Clinic suggests wearing sensible shoes and using such assistive devices as grab bars outside your shower or bathtub and handrails on both sides of stairways.

Your golden years should be just that. You should enjoy your experience and value where you are at in your life while being mindful of certain risks or new challenges that might confront you. Awareness is the key to fall prevention. Spend some time to think seriously about the suggestions noted above and take the time to make adjustments to your lifestyle, home, or health that may improve safety and prevent a fall.

At the same time, physical changes and medical conditions are not at the root of each and every fall. In fact, many times a person, regardless of any age, takes a fall that he or she could not have prevented. For example, a person might fall due to someone else’s negligence. It is important to distinguish these situations from falls that could have been avoided. If you or someone you know has fallen and you believe that another person might be at fault, you should discuss the situation with a legal professional who can help you determine whether legal action should be pursued.

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