Falls are on the rise this time of year with icy winter conditions, leading to fractures, hospitalizations, and sometimes even death. Some people think, “it won’t happen to me,” but the truth is, over 1 out of 4 Americans 65 years or older will suffer a fall every year. Other people have such a high fear of falling that they severely limit their mobility and activity, which can become a vicious cycle because reducing activity reduces muscle strength and balance, consequently putting them at a higher risk of falling.
Fortunately, falls are preventable. Prevention involves reducing hazards in the home, learning the risk factors of falling, and implementing activities to improve balance, strength, and mobility.
Reducing hazards at home:
- Keep a lamp/flashlight and any glasses within easy reach of your bed
- Be mindful of tripping hazards within the home, especially small pets
- When walking on sidewalk, be on the look-out for branches/twigs or cracks
- Be aware of curbs or changes in elevation when getting in and out of car
- Use a non-slip mat, bath bench or shower stool in tub or shower
- Install a grab bar in the bathroom. A towel rack does not count as it can easily be pulled from the wall.
Have your eyes and feet checked:
- Once a year, have your vision checked by your doctor
- People with vision problems are more than twice as likely to fall than those without vision problems
- Have your healthcare provider check your feet once a year for sensation loss or any conditions that could make you less active
- Wear proper foot-wear, which can be discussed with your healthcare provider
Talk openly with your healthcare provider about fall risks & prevention.
- Have your doctor or pharmacist review your list of medications and learn of any side effects, such as dizziness and fatigue, which can increase your risk of falling
- Some people are scared to tell their health care provider or family member about their concerns about falling because they don’t want to lose their independence. However, early recognition and prevention are key. Moreover, strength and balance can be improved at any age!
Physical activity is medicine!
- Talk with your doctor or healthcare provider before increasing physical activity
- Walking is one of the best activities you can do to improve strength, energy and balance
Physical therapists are movement experts who can help improve your strength and balance to reduce your risk of falling and improve your overall quality of life.
Call OSI today for a FREE phone consultation at 651-275-4706 to learn more or to discuss how physical therapy might be right for you.
Holly Huso, PT, DPT