Falling is a public health concern in the United States, with at least one older adult 65+ falling every second of each day. Annually, falls contribute to 800,000 hospitalizations, of which 300,000 result in an older adult receiving a hip replacement.
In fact, the National Council on Aging labels falls as the leading cause of death in older adults, totaling 27,000 per year. In addition, the total costs for medical treatment for falls in the U.S. reach over 50 billion dollars annually. These stats show that taking steps toward fall prevention should be an important consideration as loved ones or yourself age because the chance of falling increases as we get older.
While certain health issues are out of our control, and we must rely on medical interventions, diagnostics, and medications, we can control and modify many aspects of our health to promote a safe and happy life. In fact, fall safety is one of the sectors of our health that we may not be able to control fully. However, we can be sure to add foolproof variables to keep us safe during our daily routines.
Falling Risk Factors
While many think of falling as a part of aging, it should not be accepted as a normal part of becoming older, as falling can happen at any age. If fact, at any age, we often navigate our daily lives without thinking anything out of the ordinary will happen. Disregarding health warnings when life gets busy or overlooking potential fall hazards around the home because of focus on other tasks can be easy. However, it is essential to pay attention to your health and seek help when something “seems off” or suddenly changes, as it can lead to or be a sign of other issues.
Probably the most overlooked is increasing the risk of falling. Common falling risk factors include:
- Mobility restrictions
- Fear of falling
- Balance deficits
- Visual deficits
- Inner ear (vestibular) impairments
- Poor reaction time
- Diminished strength
- Medication interaction
- Sensory loss
- Bladder problems
The more risk factors for falling present, the more likely you are to fall.
What Can You Do?
The key to overcoming falling risk factors is to take steps toward fall prevention. Some things you can do to help lower your chances of falling include:
- Talk to your doctor about your medications and use risk screening tools to help you identify potential fall risk factors.
- Seek regular vision screenings.
- Attend annual physicals with your physician.
- Maintain a regular exercise regimen.
- Set up your house in a way that avoids clutter, throw rugs, and wires.
Could Physical Therapy Help You?
Many people often seek PT to address a pain that prevents them from participating in their favorite hobbies, work, and family life, and others turn to PT after falling. While often thought of as only needed after an injury or medically traumatic experience, physical therapy covers a broad spectrum of treatments. In fact, utilizing physical therapy before having pain could potentially help prevent the pain and disability from ever happening!
Physical therapy can help enhance balance deficits by improving mobility, strength, balance, coordination, and cognition. When addressing these issues, you can improve your confidence, safety, as well as overall health. This will enable you to return to doing what you love with whom you love.
Here at Cawley Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation, our experts don’t treat a “problem.” Instead, they treat the patient! Our physical therapists take the time to complete a thorough evaluation to identify why you may be at risk of falling or the reason behind your recent fall. From there, we educate you on what you need to do to take control of your safety and your life. Your therapist will also work side by side with you in order to improve your quality of life. Contact us today and find out how we can help you!