We’ve all experienced a sudden mishap that leads to a slip, trip, or fall. Maybe we’ve had the ability to catch ourselves before it led to a serious injury, or experienced a time when we weren’t so lucky to catch ourselves. Since our bodies aren’t as forgiving when we’re older, a major fall can threaten our independence. Falling is many senior’s number one fear, which can cause them to limit their activities and living life to the fullest.
According to National Council on Aging, one-fourth of Americans 65 and over fall each year. As we age, our muscle strength and sensory system can decline, which can affect balance. This is why the elderly are more susceptible to falls, and have less ability to catch themselves during a slip or a trip – resulting in a fall. To minimize your chance of becoming part of this statistic, it’s important to take precautionary measures. You can do this by stopping by a local outpatient therapy clinic and have a complimentary balance screen completed by a certified therapist. Based on your results, they will provide feedback on areas of opportunity and often recommend a muscle and balance-strengthening program.
Another precautionary measure you can take to help protect yourself is ensuring your house has adaptive devices. Adaptive devices can include:
Grab bars in your bathroom – inside and outside your shower and by your toilet
Shower chair to steady on your feet in the shower
Handle that is attached to your bed to improve your mobility and safety
There are many options out there to help make your home safe for you so again – feel free to stop in and talk to a therapist.
If you are injured falling, and you find yourself in the 2.8 million fall injuries treated in emergency departments annually, you may find yourself benefiting from a short-term rehabilitation stay. During your stay, you will have 24-hour nursing care to establish your baseline and to set your therapy goals. Many goals set are goals to get you back home – whatever home means to you. In addition, before you leave, they will perform a home safety assessment to review the safety of your home and provide feedback on how to organize your house for optimal safety.
The key is to know your limits. If something doesn’t feel quite right, don’t push yourself into making it right. If you are noticing changes in your balance, contact your doctor or reach out to a local rehab facility for that complimentary screen – Safety first, safety last, safety ALWAYS!