Take Steps to Prevent Falls
September 27, 2022
September 13, 2022 by Katie Swanson, PT, DPT Did you know September is falls prevention awareness month? According to the CDC, 1 in 4 Americans aged 65+ fall each year. A fall is not only landing on the ground after losing balance, but also falling into a wall, a piece of furniture, or to a lower surface … Continued
Katie Swanson PT, DPT
September 13, 2022 by Katie Swanson, PT, DPT
Did you know September is falls prevention awareness month?
According to the CDC, 1 in 4 Americans aged 65+ fall each year. A fall is not only landing on the ground after losing balance, but also falling into a wall, a piece of furniture, or to a lower surface when not intended. An example of this is standing up from a chair and then falling back into the chair.
Falls are NOT an expected part of aging and there are changes that can be made to reduce the risk of falling. Frequent falling can have a significant impact on one’s quality of life leading to limited social engagements and reduced mobility both contributing to a decline of general health.
Understanding your risk factors is an important way to help minimize the likelihood of falling. These risk factors can be adjusted by making lifestyle changes. Risk factors may include: physical inactivity, home environment, vision, medication use, dizziness, and fear of falling. Chronic conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, and depression may also contribute to fall risk. Working with your primary care provider to manage these chronic conditions will limit the risk of falling.
Fall prevention is best managed by multiple healthcare providers. A physical therapist can improve general strength, mobility, and balance. An occupational therapist can assist in making home modifications. Reviewing your medications with a pharmacist is important to ensure you have no adverse reactions causing balance issues. Regular vision screens can ensure that you have proper eyewear and screen for other health conditions.
Even though your fall risk can be reduced, it is still possible that a fall may occur. Knowing how to keep yourself safe during a fall may prevent injuries. Protect your neck/head by tucking your chin down toward your chest. You want to avoid falling with your arms outstretched. Instead, try to spread the impact with your entire body to allow your body to absorb the force and reduce risk for fractures. When a fall occurs, the first thing to do is assess if you have any injuries prior to trying to get up.
As the leaves start to change colors, it is the perfect time to start making some changes in your life to reduce your risk for falls. Starting small with lifestyle changes is the key to success. Starting a daily exercise program daily for just 5-10 minutes is a great way to incorporate more activity. An exercise program to reduce the risk for falls should include strength training, dynamic balance training, and aerobic activity. If you are unsure on where to start talk with your primary care provider, physical therapist, or local fitness expert.
It is never too late to start making lifestyle changes to improve the quality of life in your golden years.