“I fell down” doesn’t seem to strike too much fear in the hearts of people. But falls are a very serious health problem. In the United States, falls are the leading cause of injury, death and people over 65 years of age. One quarter of people that fall have a serious life altering injury. Fall injuries cost about $30 billion a year.
The good news is there are things she can do to prevent falls. Falls are usually caused by loss of balance. Balance requires 4 things:
1) Good eyesight.
2) Good nerve function in the lower extremity.
3) Good vestibular system (the balance system in the ears).
4) Adequate strength and mobility.
You don’t have to have all of these for good balance. But you have to have at least 3 out of the 4 to be safe. The good news is there are things you can do to dramatically decrease the likelihood of falls by taking a few steps.
Step 1: Get screened
Fall risk assessment is an essential tool to determine where you are on the fall risk spectrum. There are several fall risk assessment scores that can be used to evaluate your risk. Take the Morse Fall Risk Test Now!
Step 2: Take action
Home measures: If you or someone you love has a high risk of falling, then there are some simple things you can do around the house that can dramatically decrease the likelihood of a fall. Make sure you have grab bars in the bathroom. Get rid of loose rugs if they are a problem. Have something to hold on to when you get out of bed. Use assistive devices when you are at risk.
Exercise: Studies have shown taking a Tai Chi class can dramatically reduce the risk of falls if done consistently. These are easy to take. All you need is a computer or phone and YouTube. There are 100s of classes you can watch for free. Just type Tai Chi for beginners in the search bar. Weight training can also help prevent falls. Studies have been done inpatient groups over 75 years of age that gained significant strength increases in a few short weeks. It’s amazing how even people that are quite aged can gain strength fairly quickly. This decreases fall risk.
Bracing: In some patients a simple brace can cause significant decrease in fall risk. A pilot study recently performed on elderly patients with high fall risk show dramatic decrease in sway, and dramatic increase in balance both with the eyes closed and eyes open. We can help with getting the right bracing if needed.
Assistive devices: Quad-post walking canes are effective to prevent falls. Walkers are also very effective. It is not necessary to use these all the time but if you feel dizzy in the morning when he first get up, is probably a good idea to have close to your bed. It is also not a bad idea to have one nearby when you get out of the shower. Don’t be too proud. If you need one, use one.
Get your eye fixed if needed: If you have this and problems that can be corrected then he should do that. Poor vision is a major risk factor for falls.
If you or someone you love is at risk for falling, please schedule an appointment with us right away. For our Universal City Office call 210.375.3318 or our Pleasanton office at 830.569.3338.