JOPLIN, Mo. — A local doctor wants to make sure area seniors and their family members do their part when it comes to safety.

One-third of people aged 65 years and older experience falls each year, and that’s only what gets reported, according to Dr. Morgan Drake, a physiatrist with Freeman Health System’s Neurospine.

“We work a lot with those who fall because some of the side effects that happen once you fall, they’re injuries. So, things like traumatic brain injuries, concussions, brain bleeds – especially when you see those that have been on like blood thinners increase as those as we get older,” said Dr. Morgan Drake, NeuroSpine, Freeman Health System.

There are ways to prevent these injuries.

One way is to decrease clutter in the home, avoid having small pets that can get under feet – and stay active with low-impact workouts.

Senior citizens tend to lose bone density and muscle strength, making mobility walkers a great way to decrease weight on the lower body — all while building strength in the upper body.

“If a shoe can, you can slide your foot into a shoe, it can easily come back out, so wear shoes that have backs on them. And then we look at, do you have vision problems, do we need to add bright lights to the area to try to prevent falls? Add night lights at night if you’re getting up in the middle of the night, but you don’t want to turn on every single light in your house just to go to the restroom, have some night lights nearby,” said Drake.

And aside from the physical pains of falling, there’s also an emotional toll taken on senior citizens who often feel like their independence is being taken away – or they’re flooded with feelings of embarrassment.

“We have to be supportive as family members and say, ‘Hey, I’m here for you. We have to, we want to keep you healthy, and keep you here as long as we can. How can we do that? How can we make you feel better about this? So that we’re, you know, doing this together, you know.’ Make it a joint effort, so we can kind of try to take away those emotional aspects,” said Drake.