Every year one in four people over the age of 65 falls. That means that millions of adults fall every year, and 1 in 5 of those falls results in serious injury like broken bones or a head injury. Less than half of the people who fall will tell their doctor, maybe out of embarrassment or maybe because they assume that falling is a part of the aging process. But falling is not inevitable, and with some help from your doctor and your physical therapist, your chances of falling can be significantly reduced.
During the winter months, another huge factor is the weather. Snowy and icy conditions cause many falls in our area each year. However, there are steps you can take to help keep you safe this winter season:
While snowy and icy conditions contribute to the risk of falls, it is important to be proactive about fall prevention in your home year round.
Research has shown that many risk factors contribute to falls. Some risk factors can be changed, like lower body weakness, difficulties with walking and balance, vision problems, use of certain medications, foot pain or poor footwear, and home hazards like throw rugs, extension cords, and uneven steps or floors.
One of our physical therapists can screen you for fall risk. They can also have a positive impact on many factors to reduce your fall risk through interventions like strengthening exercises, balance training, or teaching you to use a device like a cane or walker to keep you more steady when you’re walking. We can also teach you how to make easy changes around the house that can reduce your risk of falling. Some easy examples would include:
We can help you work other professionals like your eye doctor if your vision is increasing your fall risk or with your doctor or pharmacist to review your medications to see if they could be making you feel dizzy, weak, or sleepy.
Falling is common in people over the age of 65, but that doesn’t make it a normal part of the aging process. If you have fallen, your chance of falling again is doubled, but by working with your physical therapist and the rest of your healthcare team, you can reduce your fall risk and maintain your independence!