Sadly, more than half of all accidental deaths among the elderly are due to falls.
The National Council on Aging reports that 35 percent of all Americans 65 and older fall each year. In fact, falls are the major cause of injuries in older people. Falls are also expensive: In 2015, the total medical costs involving falls exceeded $50 billion, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What Causes a Greater Risk of Falling?
Conditions such as dizziness and disequilibrium are symptoms that seniors tend to experience more frequently than other age groups. As people age, they may develop long-term physical conditions that impact their gait and balance. These physical conditions can begin to affect lifestyle and make it more difficult to exercise as time progresses. Without exercise, muscles weaken, and joints begin to ache. Staying indoors also lessens exposure to sunshine, necessary for the body’s own production of vitamin D, which is essential for strong bones. Environmental factors in and outside the home can also make a person’s risk for falls even greater.
Patients Commonly Treated for Fall Prevention
Older adults are the population most commonly treated for fall prevention and balance training. There are three major reasons why seniors are more likely to fall:
- They may suffer from chronic health conditions like heart disease, arthritis, and dementia.
- They may have hypotension (low blood pressure), which causes dizziness.
- They may have age-related conditions such as vision and hearing problems, osteoporosis, and muscle weakness in the legs.
And yet, age is not a predictor for falls. Conditions such as dizziness, vertigo, and other vestibular issues in nature can and do frequently affect a younger audience. No matter a person’s age, most falls can be prevented with the right exercise program and other therapies that can greatly improve your chances of staying on your feet. Here are some ways to stay safe and avoid injury:
- Follow an exercise program designed to improve balance, strength, and flexibility.
- Talk to your therapist about obtaining an assessment of your risk for falling.
- Have your hearing and vision evaluated each year and update your eye-wear accordingly.
- Remove tripping hazards from your home, make sure your lighting is adequate, and install grab bars wherever needed. See our Home Adaptation Checklist created for you!
- Use walking aids like canes and walkers properly.
- Stay hydrated. Dehydration leads to low blood pressure, which can cause confusion and loss of balance, which could bring on a fall.
While some factors are unable to be modified there are many that can. Take these 6 steps today to lower your chances of falls and stay independent longer.
You can always count on CORA’s balance training if falls or imbalance is turning your world upside down. Our licensed therapists are experts in treating most types of balance disorders. We tackle these conditions giving everyone, especially our seniors a safer, healthier quality of life.
Our Real Focus is Fall Prevention
CORA Physical Therapy offers a wide variety of fall prevention services for seniors and our therapists treat most types of balance disorders. Our focus is on fall prevention, and our comprehensive treatment plan has the potential to prevent 30 to 40 percent of all falls. We employ tailored balance retraining and vestibular adaptation exercises, gait and safety training, and muscle strengthening to help some of the more than 90 million people in the U.S. who are at a risk for falling.
The truth is people of all ages and all activity levels benefit from a risk assessment. Talk to your primary care physician about getting referred to a CORA clinic to have a licensed therapist complete a balance and fall risk assessment to determine your risk and help you live a safe, healthy life. Imagine living without the fear of an accidental fall. Protecting life can be simple, painless and is covered by Medicare and most insurances.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does balance naturally decline over time?
How will you assess my risk of falling?
Can my medication increase my risk of falling?
Are falls a necessary part of getting older?
If I’ve already had an accident, can I still work on preventing additional falls?
If you’re interested in improving your balance and lowering your risk of falling, schedule an appointment at one of our 200+ physical therapy clinics to learn how we can help you stay healthy and steady.