Healthy lifestyle choices in early adulthood build a higher peak bone mass and reduce your risk of osteoporosis in later years. The same measures may lower your risk of falls and improve your overall health if you adopt them at any age.

To avoid falls and to maintain healthy bone:

  • Get enough calcium and vitamin D. As a general rule, men and women age 50 and older should consume 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day, and 600 international units of vitamin D a day.
  • Exercise to strengthen bones and improve balance. Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, help you maintain peak bone density for more years. Exercise also increases your overall strength, making you less likely to fall. Balance training is also important to reducing your risk of falls, since balance tends to deteriorate with age.
  • Avoid smoking or excessive drinking. Tobacco and alcohol use can reduce bone density. Drinking too much alcohol also can impair your balance and make you more likely to fall.
  • Assess your home for hazards. Remove throw rugs, keep electrical cords against the wall, and clear excess furniture and anything else that could trip you. Make sure every room and passageway is well-lit.
  • Check your eyes. Have an eye exam every other year, or more often if you have diabetes or an eye disease.
  • Watch your medications. Feeling weak and dizzy, which are possible side effects of many medications, can increase your risk of falling. Talk to your doctor about side effects caused by your medications.
  • Stand up slowly. Getting up too quickly can cause your blood pressure to drop and make you feel wobbly.
  • Use a walking stick or walker. If you don't feel steady when you walk, ask your doctor or occupational therapist whether these aids might help.
March 11, 2015

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