Most Falls Can be Prevented

“The statistics are sobering,” says Barb Keefe, Rehabilitation Services Director. “The single most common cause of injury-related death in adults over 65 is falls. If you’ve fallen in the last six months you have a 50% chance of falling again. Fortunately, however, most falls are preventable.”

Barb explains that lots of factors can contribute to someone falling. It could be due to poor balance, decreased strength, low vision, medication use, hazards in your home environment, or some combination of these factors. Everyone is different; your doctor, physical and occupational therapists, and pharmacist can all work together on what’s called a ‘multifactorial assessment’ of your risk factors.

To prevent falls, Barb recommends solutions like these:

Create a safe environment. Over half of falls are caused by hazards in the home. Remove throw rugs, use proper lighting and night lights, install and use sturdy railings on stairs, install grab bars in the bathroom, mark edges of steps with brightly colored tape, and clear the clutter.

Exercise. Strengthening and balance exercised can help prevent falls. Physical therapy can help with dizziness and vertigo; your therapist can also teach you how to properly use a cane or walker.

Have your vision tested. Poor vision, blurred vision, and the use of bifocals can all contribute to falling.

Have your medications reviewed. Many medications can contribute to falling, especially those that affect your reaction time or make you drowsy. If the label cautions you about driving, it could affect your reaction time and ability to walk. Plus, the appropriate dose for many medications changes as you get older.

Wear proper shoes. Wear shoes that fit properly and aren’t slippery. Shoes with too much tread, however, can cause you to catch your foot on the floor and trip.

See your doctor. There may be medical or neurological reasons why you’re falling.

See us in Rehabilitation Services. In some cases, your doctor may refer you to therapy. We’ll start with a thorough assessment to determine your individual needs and risk factors. Depending on what we learn, the next step might be balance exercises, strengthening exercises, gait training, or home safety evaluation by an Occupational Therapist.

“If you’ve already fallen,” says Barb, “ask your doctor for a referral to therapy. If you’re over 65 and haven’t fallen yet, maybe it’s still time to start talking with your doctor about prevention.” To schedule an appointment, call us today at 715-939-1745.

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