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50+: Live Better, Longer

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Caution: Slippery Falls Ahead

Keeping on your toes can be no easy fete, especially come winter. Find out what can trip you up, leading to sudden falls and unwanted injuries.

What You Don't See Can Hurt You

It's important that you keep an eye on your sight. Get an eye exam if you feel like you're what Perry Binder, MD, calls "visually clumsy." Binder, who is an opthalmologist from the Gordon Binder Weiss Vision Institute in San Diego, recommends annual eye exams. Weather changes can also affect your ability to see. "Gray days without bright sunlight means less contrast, so people can't see as well under such circumstances," Binder tells WebMD. Because the sun sets earlier in the winter we lose light earlier. That's why adding lighting to dark passageways and stairwells is even more important during the winter months.

Stay Active

Believe it or not, Appy says the only activity proven effective in curbing your risk of falling is Tai Chi. Appy says it's known for helping us build strength and balance. There are numerous activities which can help you achieve these goals, and finding one that you enjoy is a surefire way to decrease your risk of falling.

Use Salt

Snow and ice can create a glare, Binder says, making it more difficult to see. In addition, snow covers cracks and holes so Binder says people need to take more "visual care" to avoid tripping over foreign objects. Shoveling properly to create safe walkways and using ice or wood chips is a no-brainer to decrease your chances of a fall outside.

Know Your Medications

Medications can sometimes cause side effects, namely dizziness, which may increase your chances of falling. "Once a year, have a medical professional -- your doctor or pharmacist --review all of your medications, including over-the-counter and prescription drugs, because it's been documented that taking four or more medications can contribute to a fall," Appy says. Keep in mind that if this is a problem for you, you may be able to have your doctor modify your doses, reducing drug use.

Appy also recommends that you track your medications, especially if you find it difficult to remember when and if you've taken your medications yet. This will decrease the likelihood that you will double up on your dose by mistake, causing unwanted side effects.

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