Did you know? You can improve your balance at any age! It’s never too late to get started!
According to the National Institutes of Health and the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, falls are the leading cause of accidental injury in older adults. Every 29 minutes someone over 65 years old dies from a fall related injury. Falls can often be prevented with the right intervention.
Have you turned down a chance to go out with family or friends because you were concerned about falling? Have you cut down on a favorite activity because you might fall? Do you have a family member that you are concerned about who has fallen?
Your risk of falling increases when you have:
- Fallen before
- Diseases like arthritis and depression
- Take 3 or more medications
- Memory problems
- Muscle weakness
- Problems walking
- Vision problems
- Hazards in the home
Once a person has fallen, the fear of falling plays a significant role in his/her ability to continue to be physically independent. That’s where fall prevention comes into the picture. Falling is not a fact of life; many falls can be prevented. Research has shown that most people at risk for falling can be helped.
People who experience a fear of falling often limit their physical activities, which can result in loss of strength, reduced muscle tone, and balance problems, making the risk of falling greater.
Here are some suggestions for managing your concerns about falls.
1. Get a fall risk assessment
Talk with your doctor about your fall risk, especially if you have any of the conditions listed above.
2. Review your medications
Bring all your medications, vitamins, and supplements to your pharmacist or health professional at least once a year and when there are changes in your health. Ask about side effects and interactions, especially if you take 4 or more medications.
3. Have your vision checked
Have your vision and eye glass prescriptions checked every year by an eye doctor.
4. Engage in regular physical activity
Ask your doctor about the best types of activities for you and make a plan that fits with what you like and what you are able to do.
5. Assess your home and make changes for safety
Use a home safety checklist or talk with a professional (such as an occupational therapist) to look for things inside your home that make you more likely to fall. Change your home to make it safer. Reduce clutter; improve lighting in rooms, hallways, and stairwells; and install handrails and grab bars.
6. Set realistic goals for staying active
Learn how to stay safe at home. Complete exercises to increase strength and balance. Learn how to identify and control your fear of falling
Remember Falling is not a fact of life as we grow older!
With the right intervention you can improve your balance!
Linda Owen Cantrill
Fall Prevention Educator/Instructor
* The Fall Prevention Coalition, Los Angeles, supported by the Kaiser Foundation and created by the Fall Prevention Center of Excellence, supported by the Archstone Foundation.