Balance – Do you have it?

What to do RIGHT after a FALL

Falls are a major health issue in the United States, especially in light of the aging population. It is reported by the US Center for Disease Control and the National Council on Aging that 1 in 4 adults over age 65 fall each year. Approaching 3 million injuries will be treated in the emergency room with nearly 1 million hospitalizations resulting from falls. An estimated 27,000 elderly die each year from falls (that is one person every 19 minutes). As of 2014 data, over $30 billion was spent treating individuals who sustained injuries falling. Clearly this is an important health issue to begin addressing.

Many individuals are aware of their balance issues, maybe even having sustained a fall. Often older adults will begin to use an assistive device such as cane or walker to help increase their confidence walking. Frequent, people will speak about making sure they have a hand on the wall or furniture inside the home to steady themselves. And many begin to restrict leaving the house due to their balance concerns and fear of fall. Yet, so few people actually get help with their problem.

Why is this?

  • Is it denial?
  • Is it shame or embarrassment?
  • Lack of family support?
  • Unaware of resources to help the problem?

Whatever the reason is, the excuses should end right here, right now.

In order to address the problem of falls, we must understand some of the reasons for falls.

What increases a person’s risk for falling?

  1. Chronic health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease
  2. Poor vision, muscle weakness, or reduced sensation in the feet
  3. Dizziness or vertigo related to a change in body position or drop in blood pressure
  4. Taking more than 4 prescription medications
  5. Low light, loose objects, and clutter in the home
  6. Past history of falls

What can be done in the home to reduce the risk of falling?

  1. Remove throw rugs or loose carpet
  2. Turn on lights when moving about the home (especially at night)
  3. Be mindful of any liquid on the floor that one could slip on
  4. Make sure to secure and use handrails going up/down stairs
  5. Remove excess clutter around walking paths
  6. Do not stand on stool/ladder and reach out away from body

Now that we know what puts a person at risk for falls and some modifications at home to reduce fall risk, what can or should be done to prevent (future) falls?

Zang Physical Therapy ~ 836 Market St, Lemoyne PA 17043 ~ 717-440-6197 ~ andrew@zangpt.com ~