Prevent injuries with fall prevention
by Sandy Goldstein —
Falling is one of the leading causes of unintentional injuries in the United States, accounting for approximately 8.9 million visits to the emergency room annually. One in three people over the age of 65 will fall every year and, many times, they will be repeat falls.
With statistics like these, why then has fall prevention become such a sensitive and taboo subject? For many, lack of physical stability in an aging population is associated with a decline in health and represents potential loss of independence.
News flash: Being at risk for falling does not have to mean loss of independence, especially when risks are identified before they pose a problem.
What can you do to prevent falls? Modifiable environmental fall risk factors can be addressed in the home. For example, these include floors, stairs, lighting, slippery tubs and shower tiles. If you are suffering from a medical condition that can cause loss of balance, vertigo or other side effects that can contribute to your risk of falling, those can be addressed as well. Musculoskeletal strengthening for lower extremity weakness can decrease the risk of falling, particularly in cases when one is transitioning from positions, such as sitting to standing.
The American and British Geriatric societies state, “Multifactorial risk assessment and intervention strategies are effective in decreasing the rate of falls and have similar risk reduction to that of other prevention measures, such as statins for cardiovascular disease.”
Caregivers, children of aging parents or anyone concerned of being at risk for falling due to stroke, Parkinson’s, recent hospitalization, etc., may want to get a thorough, multifactorial, fall risk assessment performed to determine areas that need to be addressed to reduce the risk of falling.
Taking the first step to prevent falls will be your safest step.
Sandy Goldstein, a licensed physical therapist and founder of MEASURAbilities, LLC, physical rehabilitation and fall prevention services, combines his more than 15 years of physical therapy, functional testing, ergonomics and geriatric/nursing home experience with fall prevention expertise. He offers fall risk screenings and fall prevention home safety options. 480-214-9725 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 33, Number 5, October/November 2014.