\If you’re age 65 or older, you face an increased risk of falling down: one out of four fall every year. After falling once, your chances of falling again doubles. Falls can cause serious injury — to the brain or hip — and significantly impact mobility. Each year, 2.8 million people over age 65 are treated in emergency departments for fall-related injuries, and 800,000 are hospitalized.
To know if you are at risk of falling, first talk with your primary care physician and discuss your concerns. They will assess your risk of falling and can refer you to a physical therapist.
At Salem Health physical therapy, we assess a person’s risk for falling on a daily basis and educate them on how to avoid future falls. Our assessment looks at risk factors including:
Weakness in legs and lower body
Difficulty with walking and balance
Use of medications affecting your balance or causing dizziness
Vision changes or impairments
Poor footwear or pain in feet
Symptoms of dizziness
Home hazards such as rugs or uneven steps
Loss of feeling in feet
Falls usually occur due to a combination of factors. For this reason, our assessment is thorough, and examines your strength, vision, ocular motor response (how your eyes work), sensation in your feet, vestibular system (how you hear and control internal balance), balance and home set up.
Once screened for risk factors, you will receive an individual exercise program to develop strength and body awareness. Your therapist will also offer advice for home safety improvements. Our goal is to keep you safe and participating in activities you enjoy.
Golden rule to reduce fall risk
Staying active is the key for reducing the risk of falling. Many people become fearful after falling once or losing some balance. Some avoid community outings, walks with family or participating in activities they would normally enjoy. We strongly recommend safe activities such as walking, aquatic therapy, yoga and tai chi. If you have questions about what activity may be right for you, ask your physician or physical therapist for guidance.
We offer a fall prevention fair from 9 a.m. to noon Oct. 19, Salem Health CHEC in Salem Hospital’s Building D, 939 Oak St. SE. Check out interactive booths and classroom activities ranging from balance assessments with a therapist, tai chi demonstrations, and nutrition information that benefit older adults. ☸