Staying active and physical therapy can help reduce your risk for falls
Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries in older adults, and as a result, they threaten seniors’ safety and independence in major ways. This is exactly why we offer a fall prevention program in Visalia.
Approximately one-third of Americans aged 65 and over falls each year, which results in more than 2.4 million injuries treated in emergency rooms. Most fractures among older adults are caused by falls, with over 95% of hip fractures resulting from a fall of some sort.
A fall can occur for a number of reasons, but they are often due to a combination of internal and external factors. Poor vision and/or balance in an environment with bad lighting, bad footing or slippery surfaces can be a recipe for a fall, and environmental hazards are responsible for at least one-third of all falls, both in and out of the house.
If a fall does occur, many people unfortunately go on to develop an even greater fear of falling, even if they’re not injured. This can cause them to limit their activities, which leads to reduced mobility and loss of physical fitness. Worst of all, this process can turn into a vicious cycle that actually increases the risk for falling rather than lowering it.
What’s most important to realize is that falling should not be seen as an inevitable part of aging. Making simple changes around your home, as well as improving your balance with some targeted exercises can significantly reduce your risk of falling. Below are some fall-prevention tips to help you stay on your feet and injury-free:
- Get physically active on a regular basis, as keeping up with your physical fitness is one of the best ways to keep your body strong and prevent falls
- See a physical therapist for a balance training program to be completed in the clinic and at home; these types of programs focus on improving balance and posture, which will reduce your chances of falling
- Wear shoes with nonskid soles, consider getting Velcro or spyrolaces if needed
- Conduct a walkthrough of your home to identify possible problems that may lead to a fall; once identified, make any necessary changes to remove these risks
- Install handrails on both sides of all stairways, avoid clutter and putting any items on the floor, remove throw rugs and make sure your home is well-lit
- Get your eyes checked once a year, and get adequate calcium and vitamin D
- Take your time, be patient and ask others for help with difficult, risky tasks
Balance training programs created by physical therapists have been shown to be effective for reducing the risk for falls in older adults, and the conclusion of this recent study highlights the potential benefits of any type of exercise in the elderly population:
Adding resistance exercise to aerobic exercise improves factors associated with an increased risk of falls. However, both exercise regimes, combined or aerobic alone, are more effective than no exercise in the reduction of fall risk factors.
So if you are concerned with risk for falling or that of a loved one, seeing a physical therapist is one of the best choices you can make to do something about it. Contact us to find out more about our Fall Prevention Program in Visalia and how we can help reduce your fall risk so you can lead a safer life.