5 practical tips to avoiding falls as you get older

Last month, former President George H.W. Bush fell at home and broke a bone in his neck. Fortunately, he’s now doing fine, making a full recovery, and continues to live at home. Another indication that he’s in good shape for a man in his nineties.

Falls are actually very common as we get older. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, more than one in three people age 65 years or older falls each year. Most falls happen at home. And hip injuries are very common.

Of course, it’s great for people to stay independent and live at home as they get older. So in a moment, I’ll give you some helpful tips about how to avoid falls at home. But before I get to those tips, let’s look at some more lessons we can learn from our 41st president…

George H.W. Bush is a great example of someone who continued to stay vibrant, active, and independent as he grew older. Indeed, last year, the former President celebrated his 90th birthday by jumping out of an airplane. Of course, as a Navy pilot during WW II, he once had to jump out of a plane in combat. So that jump last year wasn’t his first experience.

Today, at the age of 91, former President Bush still lives at his family home during summers in Kennebunkport, Maine–which is a great place to be at this time of year.

In my family, we have a similar tradition. We first started coming back to the north coast of New England–where I grew up–in summers almost 25 years ago. President Bush then resided in Kennebunkport at what was known as the “summer White House.”

Of course, like me, he still worked back in Washington, D.C., during the rest of the year. Some of his grandchildren attended the same school there as our daughter. And we got to know the family on a personal basis as well. I remember we received many kind, personal notes from the Bush family residence in Kennebunkport.

Unfortunately, civility started to leave Washington, D.C. after Bush left office…and not just during summer.

If you want to continue living at home well into your 90s–on the coast of Maine or anywhere–you must follow some simple but critical steps.

1. Get enough calcium. Even the National Institutes of Health (NIH) admits your calcium intake should increase to 1,200 mg per day as you get older. And if you’re a woman, you need to start getting more calcium once you reach your 50s.

Of course, the mainstream likes to ring false alarms about the dangers of all dietary supplements. But in the case of calcium, they’re right. As I’ve reported before, calcium makes for poor supplements. Plus, research links calcium supplements to kidney stones and cardiovascular disease.

You must really get your calcium from foods only. Fortunately, if you follow a balanced diet–which includes eggs, fish, seafood, and meat–you’ll get enough calcium. (But a vegetarian diet won’t give you the calcium, nor many other key nutrients, you need at any age.) Plus, these foods include plenty of other vitamins and minerals for healthy bones, including vitamin D and magnesium.

2. Eat protein with every meal. Your body needs a steady stream of protein to build muscle. Protein also keeps your energy up, which will also help protect you against falls. But, as I explained again just last month, most men and women don’t get enough protein as they get older.

3. Get more vitamin D. This critical nutrient helps build strong, healthy bones. As well as a healthy metabolism, mind and body. Plus, as you get older, your skin doesn’t synthesize vitamin D from the sun as efficiently. Wearing sunscreen also inhibits this process. So you should strive to get outside and get some unfiltered sun at every age. Also–if you’re over 50, make sure you ask your doctor to measure your vitamin D levels routinely.

The NIH says men and women should increase vitamin D intake with age–but only to 800 IU per day. This pathetic amount lags way behind the current research, which shows everyone should take 10,000 IU per day year round for optimal health. In fact, different teams of independent scientists recently showed the government calculations are off by a factor of 10, as I explained in the May 2015 issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter. But the NIH still has not gotten that memo.

4. Work on your balance. Go for walks outside in Nature. It’s a great way to stay fit and work on your balance. Also, try taking a yoga or Tai Chi class. These gentle exercises will help you improve your core strength and balance, which are major indicators of increased longevity.

5. Make some practical, safety updates to your home. For example, install handrails in bathrooms, next to your bed, and in other tricky areas. Avoid poorly designed furniture that sits too low to the floor. When it sits too low, you can’t safely stand up, which strains your hips and can cause falls and fractures.

Improve lighting, especially in staircases. Unfortunately, the government is working against us with their ridiculous new rules for “energy-efficient” light bulbs that give inadequate lighting and take longer to warm up than it takes many 90-year-olds to make it up those stairs!  We can use the term “dim bulbs” to describe these lights as well as the government bureaucrats who came up with them!

Also, place skid-free mats under throw rugs, available for as little as $7 on special at large retail outlets like Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

By your taking some simple steps in your own bed and bath, you can postpone that trip to the great beyond.