Fall prevention becomes increasingly important as we get older. Shifts in our balance occur during this stage of our lives due to natural physical changes, health conditions and some medications. Studies show that the best way to reduce your risk of experiencing a fall is to establish an effective routine of balance exercises. You can also work with your healthcare provider to get a comprehensive fall risk assessment, which can help you identify additional modifiable risk factors, such as making changes to your home’s layout or accessibility.
Here, we discuss why falling can be so dangerous, how to prevent it, and what to do if you do take a tumble.
Why Falls Are So Dangerous for Older Adults
Falling is the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among older adults in the United States. These falls can have a serious effect on one’s quality of life, resulting in broken bones and head trauma. The risk of injury increases as we age, as osteoporosis can cause brittle, porous bones that can break more easily during a fall. Complications during surgery are also more prevalent in this age group, and can result in a longer recovery time.
What to Do if You Fall
Even with a robust prevention routine, sometimes falls happen. When they do, here’s what you can do to recover more quickly.
- Stay on the ground. At least for a few moments after the fall, staying on the ground can help you better assess your physical condition and give you time to breathe.
- Assess your condition. Decide if you are hurt before you attempt to get up. If you think you are hurt, try to identify where the injury occurred.
- Get up slowly. If you think you can get up on your own, do so slowly and in stages. First, roll onto your side, then rest to allow your blood pressure to settle. Then, get on your hands and knees, and crawl to a stable piece of furniture. Be careful of how you move your body to avoid worsening any injuries or falling again.
- Call 911 or a loved one for help. If you are unable to get up on your own, call a loved one for help or 911 if your injuries are serious or immobilizing.
Above all, try to remain calm after a fall.
Assess Your Fall Risk Factors
While creating your balance exercise strategy, it’s useful to understand your current strengths and weaknesses. At Friendship Village of South Hills, we give our residents access to VSTBalance and VirtuSense, which are automated fall-risk assessment tools that use artificial intelligence and machine vision to assess your fall risk.
These tools only take a few minutes to use, and when done, they generate a report that helps residents find early balance, gait and function deficits so that they can be addressed by targeted, skilled treatments. Then, treatment plans can be made using engaging biofeedback activities that assist in reducing falls and improving mobility.
This type of assessment and adhering to tailored treatment plans has been shown to:
- Mitigate post-acute care falls by 73%
- Improve resident mobility by 85%
Those without access to a fall risk assessment program should speak to a healthcare professional about alternatives.
Tips for Fall Prevention
The best way to prevent a fall is to attend to your overall health and well-being. Take the following fall prevention tips to heart to reduce your risk.
- Discuss balance concerns with your doctor. If you are feeling more unsteady, discussing this with your care providers can help. There may be medication changes or other lifestyle suggestions that can help.
- Balance-focused exercises. Include exercises in your routine that are specifically designed to strengthen your balance. Be sure to speak with your doctor before starting any new exercise regimen.
- Maintain vision health. Keeping your glasses prescription updated and staying on top of your eye health can help prevent falls caused by poor vision, seeing double or other sight issues.
- Use an assistive device. Canes and walkers can be great tools for aiding in mobility when balance concerns mount.
Explore Lifestyle Options at Friendship Village of South Hills
At Friendship Village of South Hills, we are dedicated to helping seniors age well. We empower our residents to live independently and provide the resources and opportunities for them to participate in their favorite activities and stay active year-round. Residents also get access onsite to VirtuSense and VSTBalance, a rehabilitative technology that reduces falling risks by improving balance and increasing mobility through biofeedback activities.
Contact us today for more information or to book a tour.