Reduce Your Risk of Falling as You Age
BY HANNAH ROPP
It’s no surprise that falling becomes more common as you age. In fact, one in every four older adults suffers injuries from falls each year. However, according to physical therapist Sandy Tremblay from Lehigh Valley Health Network, you have the power to reduce your risk of falls. “Doing regular physical activities that include endurance, muscle strength and balance activities reduce the risk of fall-related injuries,” she says.
How physical therapy can help
One way to reduce your risk of falling is to see a physical therapist. Physical therapists are movement experts who improve quality of life through hands-on care, patient education, and prescribed movement.
A physical therapist can help you:
Assess your risk for falling
Design an individualized plan for your fall-prevention needs
Help make your home safe
Learn about medical risk factors associated with falls
Provide you with appropriate exercise and balance training
Work with other health care professionals to address any underlying medical conditions that could increase your fall risk
Five tips to reduce your risk of falls
Falls can be prevented. Tremblay outlines five tips she often tells her own patients when it comes to minimizing their risk of falling.
Maintain mobility and improve strength – Stay active by doing physical activities you enjoy. Take part in tai chi, yoga or walking. Doing so will help you keep your strength, flexibility, coordination and balance. Check with your doctor or physical therapist to see what types of activities are safe.
Get a fall screening – Ask your doctor or physical therapist about fall screenings. A trained health care provider can assess your fall risk and work with you to find ways to decrease your risk.
Read your medication labels – If you take more than four medicines (prescribed or over-the-counter), your risk for falling is higher. Many drugs can cause dizziness, loss of balance, blurry vision and more. If you have any of these symptoms, review your medications with your pharmacist. Then, talk to your doctor about whether a change is in order.
Eliminate hazards around your home – Check your home for anything that could cause you to trip. Things like rugs, clutter, poor lighting, and wobbly furniture or handrails could be a hazard. If you cannot fix or remove the items yourself, ask a friend or family member to help.
Improve home safety – Add a secure grab bar in the tub or shower and next to the toilet. A bar will provide support when the floor or your feet are slippery. Check with your doctor or physical therapist about any programs that offer home safety assessments. Your Area Agency on Aging may be another source of help or support.
For more information on fall prevention or to make an appointment with a physical therapist, visit LVHN.org/outpatient.