When you were a kid and fell, more often than not it resulted in a scraped knee and a few tears. But as our age increases, so do the consequences of a fall.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year in the United States, nearly one-third of people aged 65 and older experience a fall – and one out of 10 falls in this age group results in an injury requiring hospitalization.

In addition to age, having arthritis is a risk factor for falls. “Mobility in the patient with arthritis is often altered or limited, contributing to problems with balance,” says Susan Avent, a registered nurse at Duke University Hospital in Durham, N.C., and chair of its Falls Advisory Board, which addresses risk factors and monitors data on falls. “Patients with arthritis may suffer increased pain often requiring the use of pain medications which may further alter mobility.”

Reduced strength, slower reflexes and diminished awareness of one’s spatial orientation add to the problem.

But falls don’t have to be in your future. Here’s what Avent and other experts advise to reduce your risk.

Don’t multitask while walking. “It interferes with people’s ability to identify that a fall is about to take place,” says Emily Keshner, chair of the physical therapy department at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pa.

Exercise. Tai chi, water workouts and walking all build strength while improving flexibility, coordination and balance. The Arthritis Foundation [[ed note: link to www.arthritis.org]] offers programs for all three activities!

Get your eyes tested. Identify and treat vision problems so you can clearly see where you are going.