Tri-Valley Orthopedic Specialists Rehabilitation Department
In the elderly, unintentional falls account for 80% of all admissions to hospitals across the United States. This gives us all sufficient reason to be concerned about the risk factors and reasons associated with falling and how each of us can prevent it from happening.
As we age there are many progressive physical changes which occur. These changes may include decreases in overall strength, flexibility, vision, hearing, reaction times, endurance, and balance. Episodes of dizziness and fatigue may also be a component of illness or aging. A combination of these changes may lead to a lack of confidence in overall activity, and a decrease in functional independence which ultimately becomes a general “fear of falling”.
Although it is important to be cautious, being overly cautious and cutting back physical activity may, in fact, increase your risk for falling. Muscle weakness, poor balance, and a sedentary lifestyle are prime reasons associated with falls. It is therefore important to engage in regular exercise and a stretching program to help slow down the effects of aging.
There are many changes which you can make in your own environment and general surroundings to help decrease the risk of falls. The following “tips” might save you a “trip” to the hospital:
Fall Prevention Tips
- Avoid Rushing – take your time – focus on the task at hand
- Pick up your feet when walking – walk heel to toe
- Remove tripping hazards immediately, including clutter from the floor
- Remove throw rugs – it is easy to catch a toe
- Be certain wires and cords are not in walking paths
- Install grab bars in the bathrooms and shower
- Use handrails when walking up or down stairs
- Never carry too many items, or in a way to prevent you from seeing where you are putting your feet.
- Avoid sitting on low furniture – add cushions to raise seat height
- Exercise regularly
We are hopeful that this information will be helpful in bringing more awareness to a serious issue associated with aging adults. We are always happy to take your questions. If you or a loved one needs help, please feel free to contact the Physical and Occupational Therapists in our Rehabilitation Department at 925-463-1200.