By Nancy Gay
Did you know that falls are the leading cause of injury-related death in Americans over age 65 and cancer patients are at greater risk because of the disease and its complicated treatments? Approximately 20% of newly diagnosed cancer patients suffer a fall at home within the first six months after diagnosis. That’s usually due to medications, loss of strength, low blood counts, electrolyte imbalance, neuropathy and dehydration. But Moffitt Cancer Center offers the following five tips to stay safe:1. Talk with your doctor.
When it comes to preventing falls, your physician can help by reviewing your prescription and over-the-counter medications and supplements and looking for side effects and interactions that may increase your risk of falling. Medicines may also have a different effect on your body as you age, which may increase your risk of falling.
Talk with your doctor about your health conditions and if you are experiencing dizziness, joint pain, shortness of breath, or numbness in your feet and legs when you walk.
Be sure to tell your doctor if you’ve fallen before and discuss the circumstances surrounding the fall. This information can help your physician come up with personalized fall-prevention strategies.2. Exercise.
Gentle exercises such as walking, water workouts and tai chi can improve balance and make your legs stronger, reducing your chances of falling. Talk with your health care provider about which exercises are best for you.3. Wear sensible shoes.
Footwear plays a major role in preventing falls. High heels, fuzzy slippers and shoes with slick soles, such as flip-flops, may lead you to trip, slip and fall. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes with nonskid soles. Properly fitting, sensible shoes may also reduce joint pain.4. Check your vision.
Wearing the wrong glasses or living with glaucoma or cataracts limits your vision and can increase your chances of falling. Get your eyes checked at least once a year and update your eyeglasses.5. Safeguard your home.
Approximately half of all falls happen in the home, but there are things you can do to make your living space safer:
- Remove small throw rugs or use double-sided tape to keep rugs from slipping.
- Keep items you use often in cabinets you can reach easily without using a step stool.
- Install grab bars next to and inside of the bath tub and next to the toilet.
- Use nonslip mats in the bathtub and on the shower floor.
- Install bright lights in your home and hang lightweight curtains or shades to reduce glare.
- Install handrails and lights on all staircases.
- Place a lamp within reach of your bed for middle-of-the-night needs.
- Avoid going barefoot inside or outside of your home.
Get your free fall risk assessment during Moffitt Cancer Center’s Fall Prevention Awareness Days:
Monday, Sept. 23
- Moffitt Cancer Center Magnolia Campus by Gold Valet
- 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 26
- Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation Outpatient Center at McKinley Campus by Oasis Cafe
- 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.