The man who slips on a banana peel is a classic staple of physical comedy, and comics from Buster Keaton to Chevy Chase have understood that a fall is a surefire way to get a laugh. But real falls are a risk to your safety, and celebrities have to take just as much precaution as the rest of us. Celebrity falls have been in the news in the past several years:
- Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, then 65, fell and suffered a concussion in December 2012 after becoming dehydrated from a stomach virus and fainting.
- A few days later, television journalist Barbara Walters, then 83, fell on a staircase in Washington, DC, and was hospitalized for a cut on her forehead and a fever that she subsequently developed.
- In 2010, actress Susan Sarandon, then 63, twisted her ankle after slipping in the mud and falling during a visit to Haiti.
Falls are the primary cause of injury to people older than age 65, according to stopfalls.org. One in three seniors falls each year. But there are steps that seniors can take to reduce their risk of falling. Stopfalls.org recommends these three precautions against falls:
- Get an assessment from a health care provider: Osteoporosis or changes in vision or balance can increase the risk of falling. In addition, certain medications can cause dizziness.
- Get regular exercise: Fewer than 35 percent of seniors do this; however, flexibility, balance, and strength training can reduce the risk of falls.
- Take an inventory of the environment: Where are the falling hazards around the home? The bathtub and steps are obvious risk areas, as are cracked or uneven sidewalks outside of the home. In the tub, install grab bars, a bath stool, and non-skid strips. Outdoors, install handrails, adequate lighting, and some sort of contrast between steps — for example, alternating colors.
In addition, the Mayo Clinic reminds all people — not just seniors — to wear sensible shoes. Always have your feet measured when you buy shoes; avoid shoes with thick soles and wear shoes with non-skid soles. Choose lace-up shoes and keep the laces tied. If you have difficulty tying laces, choose shoes with fabric fasteners. Women with a wider foot can try on a pair of wide-width shoes. The celebrity falls that have been in the news in recent years show us that we all need to take proper care to reduce the risk of falls.