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Fracture Prevention: 6 Tips to Fight Fractures, Slips, and Falls

Learn how just a little effort and forethought today can help you prevent fractures tomorrow.

Fracture Prevention Tip: Know How Medicines Might Affect You

Unfortunately, as you get older, you're more likely to need daily medications. And all medications have side effects, some of which can increase your risk of having a fall. Medications that can cause dizziness or lack of coordination are:

  • Sedatives or sleeping pills
  • Drugs that lower high blood pressure, which can sometimes cause hypotension, blood pressure that is too low
  • Antidepressants
  • Anticonvulsants, which are used to treat epilepsy and some psychological conditions
  • Muscle relaxants, which may be used for back pain or other problems
  • Some medicines for heart conditions

Other drugs, like some corticosteroids, are also associated with a higher risk of osteoporosis and fractures. Just the number of medicines you take can increase the danger. Studies have linked taking four or more prescription medicines with a higher rate of falls, regardless of what the drugs are.

But given that you need these medicines for other health reasons and can't just stop taking them, what should you do? Go over all the drugs you take with your doctor. Bring in a list or the bottles themselves. Keep in mind that one doctor -- like your primary care provider -- might not know what other doctors -- like your cardiologist, or rheumatologist -- have prescribed.
If any of the medicines you take are increasing your risk of falls, see what can be done. It's possible that your doctor can change your dosage or change medicines altogether so that you're less likely to take a fall.

And keep in mind that alcohol -- along with illicit drugs -- are also a risk. Anything that impairs your functioning bumps up your risk of falling.

Fracture Prevention Tip: Lighten Up

As you age, you may notice that your vision isn't quite as keen as it once was. Sometimes this is due to a treatable health condition, like cataracts. But it's also the result of natural, physiologic changes that can't be controlled.

"As we get older, we lose some of the contrast sensitivity in our vision," says John Schousboe, MD, director of the Park Nicollet Clinic Osteoporosis Center in St. Louis Park, MN. "This makes it harder to discern objects," especially in low light. So you need to brighten up your home. Here are some tips.

  • Install overhead lights in all rooms, so you don't have to stumble around in the dark to find the lamp.
  • Use nightlights in your bedroom, bathroom and any hallways that connect them.
  • Make sure all stairways, both inside and outside, are well lit.
  • Keep a flashlight by your bed.

If you're concerned about the high electric bills that could come with brightening up your home, consider compact fluorescent bulbs. They work in regular light sockets and offer the same amount of light as traditional incandescent bulbs, but use much less electricity. They also last much longer, which reduces the number of times you have to hazard standing on a stepladder to change a bulb.

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