Everyone has done it. But a fall is the most likely thing to land you in the hospital.
Mercy Health Trauma Coordinator Amanda Lencyk said falls are the number one reason people are seen in the emergency room.
Lencyk said, "Forty percent of our patients are geriatric patients, and of those 40 percent, 80 percent are treated for injuries related to falls."
But Lencyk said it's not a local problem, but rather a national issue.
"Other than age, most falls can be prevented," she said.
Part of the problem is knowing the risk factors for those who are more likely to fall.
For many, age-related problems such as glaucoma, cataracts, and loss of balance are big reasons they may fall.
"Medications are a big risk factor for falls too. Some can decrease your blood pressure or make you dizzy. Especially if you're not taking them appropriately," Lencyk continued.
"We also have assistive devices," she continued. "Because people are in need of a cane or a walker, they're more likely to fall. So there is that risk factor already associated. But what impacts that risk even greater is not knowing how to use those assistive devices. So we often have people that have a walker at home, and they give it to their neighbor because they know they need it. But if they're not instructed on properly how to use it, it could absolutely increase their risk further to fall."
Fortunately, many falls can be prevented through several easy techniques.
Most importantly, Lencyk said exercise is the easiest form of prevention.
"Not only does it improve your core strength and your balance, but it can help you rebound quicker," she said. "And not just in that you're more agile in getting up from the fall, but also if you do sustain injuries and end up in the hospital it helps you recuperate quickly.
Lencyk said there are several exercise programs specifically designed to help seniors prevent falls.
One such program, the Stepping Out program, is offered through the Mercy Health Foundation and features classes of varying degrees and intensities.
"It doesn't matter where you start, just do something," Lencyk said.
For those who would rather stay home, Lencyk said that the National Institute of Health offers free at-home workout videos and written guides to walk community members through exercises that help mitigate fall risks. Those videos and links to written resources can be found here.
Lencyk also said that it's important to realize that falls can happen at any time., "We think about falls primarily in the winter because there are ice and snow and all of those hazards, but in the summer it creates a whole new problem."
"You know as you're going out to all these summertime parties; the graduation parties, the weddings, and all of that. There are lots of hazards that we don't even think about. Steps, curbs, entrances to locations, sometimes there's a step up. So take a few extra moments and be aware of your surroundings and look for those potential hazards," she said. "We also want to make sure you're taking extra precautions when you're walking your dog. That seems to be a big hazard. As the dog runs off, maybe your reaction time is a little bit slower, and that can predispose you to falls, especially in the summer when you're taking those longer walks around the block."
Several health conditions can make falls more likely, specifically ones that affect your gait, or walking stride.
"So when you start to make those modifications to your walking stride it can impact your knees, your back, and your hips, all of those other joints can be impacted as well and so make sure you're talking to your doctor and scheduling those appointments to have your eyes and feet checked," she said.
Lencyk said there are also necessary steps to take inside your home to prevent a fall.
"It seems a little silly to say this, but clutter. Those things that we have lying around can trip us. Dog toys, if you have any toddlers around, there are lots of things lying around. but also throw rugs, if they're not taped down or secured."
Lencyk also suggests that your home is well lit during the day and night.
"This is something that we struggle with, making sure that people are aware that's it's important to have lights that are bright enough so that you can see where you're going, and not just in your home but also outside," she said.
If you do fall, Lencyk said it's important to remember that everyone falls and to keep an open dialogue with your primary care doctor.
"You need to speak up to your doctor. Talk about any medications that you're on. Also, if you have fallen, that's important because if you've fallen you're more likely to fall again if you don't do some interventions," she said.
"Also it's important to talk to them (your primary care doctor) about any fears that you might have about falling. Because often what happens if someone experiences a fall they are worried or they have a fear that they're going to fall again. And that significantly affects their quality of life. And that's something that shouldn't happen. There are ways that we can get them stronger, improve their balance so that it doesn't happen again," Lencyk said.
More information on the Stepping Out program can be found here: