According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the No. 1 cause of death and injury in folks ages 65 years and older.
But let me be clear…
Suffering a fall ISN’T a “normal” part of aging.
In fact, the Harvard School of Medicine recently issued a report outlining how simply following “doctor’s orders” could result in a deadly fall!
Let me explain…
Drugs cause big problems
According to a report published last year by Harvard School of Medicine, over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription drugs are a MAJOR cause of deadly falls.
In fact, taking just one drug, as directed by your doctor, can cause big problems once you hit a certain age.
For example, when you take a medication to control your blood pressure and/or blood sugar, it can make you to feel lightheaded when you stand…and cause you to fall.
Worse yet, many doctors fail to adjust and lower doses—or discontinue certain drugs—as the patient’s condition improves or their metabolism changes. (Remember, some science shows older adults may benefit from slightly higher blood pressure and blood sugar.)
Falls can also occur when older adults take multiple drugs all at once. This practice is known as “polypharmacy.”
I learned about the problem of polypharmacy and falls back in the 1970s during my medical training. We often saw patients in the hospital who had suffered a fall and exhibited serious mental confusion, dizziness, and drowsiness.
So, we’d stop all their prescriptions drugs for a day to see what would happen. Typically, by the next day, they almost always improved!
Of course, since then, the problem of polypharmacy has only grown worse. In fact, we once considered the typical polypharmacy case as someone taking nine drugs at once. Today, the typical polypharmacy case can refer to someone taking 15 drugs at once!
Some of the common drugs that can trigger falls include antidepressants, antihistamines, benzodiazepines, sleep aids, bladder control medications, narcotics, and opioids.
I recommend using caution when taking ANY kind of OTC or prescription drug, especially the older you get. And be sure to have your doctor review your medications and dosages regularly (at least once or twice a year) to ensure you’re only taking what’s necessary.
Four sensible ways to avoid deadly falls
Of course, in addition to avoiding dangerous drugs, there are many other sensible ways to keep your sure footing as you get older…
1.) Follow a healthy, balanced diet. Osteoporosis (or “brittle bone” disease) is another major cause of falls and disability. It relates to inadequate amounts of vitamin D, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and protein.
But adopting a healthy, balanced diet can help provide you with these much-needed nutrients. (Remember, I always advise you to get your calcium exclusively from your diet, not from supplements.)
A balanced, Mediterranean-type diet includes plenty of nutrient-dense foods—like beans; full-fat dairy (including milk, eggs, yogurt, and cheeses); fruits; heart-healthy fats from wild-caught fish and olive oil; grass-fed and -finished meats (like lamb); nuts; and vegetables.
2.) Protect your neurological functions with key supplements. Science shows when a person experiences a decline in eyesight, inner ear function, and brain processing, it can disrupt their balance and proprioception (your sense of where your body is in space). As a result, their fall risk increases.
Fortunately, there are many natural supplements that support these key neurological functions, including:
- Berberine (from barberry)—500 mg
- Lutein—12 mg
- Blueberry powdered extract—400 mg of water-soluble, or grape plus wild blueberry extract—600 mg
- Turmeric (curcumin)—400 mg
- Pyridoxine (B6)—5 mg
- Folic acid (folate)—800 mcg
- Cyanocobalamin (B12)—20 mcg
- Thiamin—2.5 mg
3.) Stay active. Science shows that engaging in just 140 to 150 minutes of physical activity per week is an optimal amount to improve your overall health and longevity. This sensible approach will also help you maintain muscle strength and keep your joints, ligaments, and tendons flexible and responsive as you age.
4.) Make some safety modifications to your home. There are some very simple modifications you can make to your home to help you avoid falls—like installing handrails, avoiding furniture that sits too low to the floor, improving lighting, and placing skid-free mats under throw rugs.
The best part? By following these four simple steps, you’ll also improve your overall health!