Every single year, roughly a third of the Senior population suffers from a fall. That is four out of every twelve seniors, two out of every six. You probably know someone who had a bad fall last year and this year, you don’t want to become a part of the fall risk statistics to be read as a warning for seniors in 2020.
Senior Fall Risk: The Alarming Statistics
Folks, the statistics are dire. Roughly 87% of fractures in the senior population happen because of falls. And stays in the hospital recovering from a fall tend to be twice as long as usual, because fall fractures can be so bad in addition to the risk of contracting other conditions while in the hospital and loss of muscle mass during recovery.
Even more problematic is that around 47% of seniors who fall cannot get up on their own. Waiting for help or the time it takes to call for help can then lead to dehydration, pressure sores, or further injury trying to get up unsuccessfully. Illness as a result of prolonged waiting without help can even lead to pneumonia, which happens alarmingly often.
Why Do Seniors Fall?
In order to avoid the risk of falling for yourself, it’s important to understand why seniors fall. No one plans to take a fall and most seniors are not careless about their movements. Which means the problems must lie elsewhere. In most cases, falls in the elderly are related to one or more of the following three causes.
Seniors who are trying to do two things at once are more likely to lose their footing or trip on something while unable to catch themselves or regain balance. As we get older, it becomes important to plan each movement with care. Not only do you need to mind your balance, but reaction time may also be reduced so that you don’t have the speed necessary to prevent a fall once it begins.
Strength and Balance
Speaking of balance, the ability to maintain your balance with stabilizing muscles is another serious concern. Muscles that are no longer strong may also no longer be able to keep you from falling at a critical moment. Pre-retirement adults have a great deal of muscle in the legs, back, and torso core that prevents falls while seniors may lack this muscle that is essential to maintaining your balance in motion.
Finally, it is not uncommon for seniors to become dizzy in the course of daily tasks. Getting up too quickly, running low on blood sugar, or sometimes with no apparent cause at all a dizzy spell can hit and you may find yourself falling. If you suffer from head-rushes or dizzy spells, it is important to be prepared for this and know what to do if a dizzy spell comes upon you. This is another reason to be careful about multitasking.
How Physical Therapy Can Help Seniors Avoid Fall Risks
Physical Therapy (PT) is an important part of many seniors’ lives, especially if you have already suffered a fall before or have been told by your doctor that you are at a heightened risk of falling. Here’s how a physical therapist can help:
Restore Balance and Strength
A PT will help you work on your balance, both by strengthening your muscles and helping you get in tune with your inner ear. Through strength assessment and conditioning exercises, you can ensure that your legs, hips, back, and torso muscles are strong enough to catch yourself before a fall. And with vestibular treatment, you can decrease any balance issues you may have been having.
Identifying the Root of Dizzy Spells or Weakness
Beyond physical therapy, a PT may also be able to help you identify the root cause of your fall risks like dizzy spells, weakness, or trouble walking. From there, you can seek exactly the kind of treatment you need to reduce risk.
How to Decrease the Risk of Falling in Your Home
Now let’s talk about keeping yourself safe at home. To avoid becoming part of the senior fall risk statistic, prepare your home to be a safe place to walk and live without adding to your personal fall risk.
Remove Obstacles and Tripping Hazards
Pick up any floor rugs that tend to buckle or whose edges can be kicked up. Clean up clutter, widen your walkways, and string cables over the ceiling instead of over the floor.
Place No-Slip Mats on Hard Floors
Put down no-slip mats on hard floors, especially in areas that could become slick near the kitchen or bathroom.
Use Strategic Nightlights to Ensure Visibility
Make sure you can always see where you’re going, even in the middle of the night. Use nightlights or smart lights set in a dim nighttime mode to provide clear visibility.
Install Grab Bars and Railings for Stability
Being able to catch yourself is very helpful. Install a few grab bars and handrails around your home. You may also be able to arrange furniture to form handrails along walking paths with, for example, the back of your sofa.
Do You Need to Reduce Your Personal Risk of Falling?
If you feel that you are at an increased risk of falling due to instability, dizziness, or difficulty walking then physical therapy may be able to help you overcome these risks and avoid becoming part of the senior fall risk statistics. Please feel welcome to call Cawley PT and Rehab at 570-208-2787 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always ready to help new patients overcome their limitations and identify any underlying problems so you can remain safe and build your strength this year.