Fear of falling increases as we age—and with good reason. About one of every three adults aged 65 and older falls each year. In 2010, more than 2.3 million nonfatal falls were treated in emergency rooms, resulting in more than 662,000 hospitalizations. A staggering 95% of all hip fractures are related to falls. In people older than 75, a high percentage of those who fracture a hip either die within one year or require at least one year in a nursing home.
Despite these sobering facts, most falls are preventable. Physical therapists are an excellent resource for prevention of falls. We can address the following risks that make falls more likely to occur:
- The more slowly you walk, the more likely you are to fall.
- Using a cane improperly or wearing the wrong footwear can increase your chance of falling.
- Prescription medications or low blood pressure may cause dizziness and loss of balance.
Exercise is key to preventing falls. Many senior centers offer exercise classes, but these are often not geared specifically to fall prevention. We will perform an individual assessment of your risk of falling. From that assessment, we can design an exercise program that addresses issues of balance, strength and gait appropriate to your physical ability. We will make sure you understand how to exercise correctly, and recommend exercises and activities to avoid.
We can help in other ways, too. We can give advice about proper footwear, proper use ofcanesand walking devices, and the best posture to prevent a fall. In addition, we can work with your physician to find medications that are less likely to cause dizziness and disrupt balance. Finally, we can recommend how to make your home safer by adding grab bars in the bathroom, taping down throw rugs, improving lighting and removing tripping hazards.
Falls are not an inevitable part of aging. Talk to us today about an individual risk assessment, and put the fear of falling behind you.