“Doesn’t Everyone Fall When They Get Older? Quick Fall Facts and Prevention Strategies”
Falls are a really big deal if you are over the age of 65. Over 25% of individuals over the age of 65 fall every year and 20% of those falls cause serious injuries like a broken bone or head injury (concussion or traumatic brain injury). While many older adults fall, falling is not a normal part of aging and many falls can be prevented.
You may be asking yourself, “Well, what can I do to reduce my risk for falling?”
The National Council on Aging has outlined 6 steps that you can take to reduce your risk for falling.
1) Find a good balance and exercise program
- Weakness, poor flexibility and balance issues can all contribute to falls. A physical therapist can assist with assessing your risk for falling and determining where your deficits may be and help to create a customized balance and exercise program to address your needs.
2) Talk to your health care provider
- Your physician can also help to assess your risk for falling and it is important to inform your doctor of your fall history and any recent falls in the last year.
3) Regularly review your medications with your pharmacist or doctor
- A medication review is very important as many medications can have side-effects that can cause you to feel dizzy or unsteady. Your pharmacist or physician will be able to look at all of your medications and make appropriate recommendations to keep you safe.
4) Get your vision and hearing checked annually and update your eyeglasses
- All of our senses are crucial to helping you to keep your balance. If your vision is blurry or if you have other eye conditions (cataracts, blindness, macular degeneration, or glaucoma) it can make it hard to see hazards and environmental challenges around you. Hearing is also very important, if you have difficulty hearing it may be hard to anticipate or be warned of environmental changes around you.
5) Keep your home safe
- Over 50% of falls occur at home. It is important to regularly check your home for fall hazards. This can include having cluttered floors, throw rugs or cords which are tripping hazards, inadequate lighting, or having broken or uneven steps. Sometimes simple modifications to your home can help with improving your safety and reducing your risk for falling at home. The CDC has an on-line brochure to help you assess your home hazards. http://www.cdc.gov/steadi/pdf/steadi_checkforsafety_brochure-a.pdf
6) Talk to your family members
- Falling and fear of falling can lead you to feel like limiting your activity and social interaction. Enlist your friends and family to help support you, encourage you as you begin your exercise program, and assist with making your home modifications.
Remember: falls are not a normal part of aging and you have the ability to reduce your personal fall risk. Consult your physical therapist for a fall risk assessment and help you stay independent longer.
Dr. Emma Phillips works as a physical therapist in Manhattan. She is a Geriatric Clinical Specialist and has a passion for working with older adults with an emphasis on balance and fall prevention. She is able to be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
National Council on Aging. Accessed 11/29/2016
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed: 11/29/2016 http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Falls/adultfalls.html Accessed