Every eleven seconds, an Emergency department sees an older adult who has experienced a fall. This staggering statistic was reported by the National Council on Aging (NCOA), an organization that spearheads Falls Prevention Awareness Day, which is held annually on the first day of fall. Throughout the year, South County Physical Therapy, Inc. (SCPT) works with patients to reduce their risk of fall-related injuries, through its Osteoporosis and Osteopenia Program. We’re happy to share some helpful information to prevent falls and keep you and your loved ones safe.
Assess your home: You’ve heard the saying, “Home is where the heart is.” It should be a place to feel safe and comfortable, yet more than fifty percent of falls happen at home, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Decrease the chance of a fall within your home by making a few easy and inexpensive adjustments. Look at your living space with a critical eye. Do you see potential hazards, like a phone cord or a rug that slides over a slippery floor? Does the edge of your dining room table extend out just enough that you occasionally bump into it when you’re rounding a corner? For a safer home, choose cordless phones to eliminate cord risks, make sure that rugs are secured to the floor with anti-slip tape, and move any pieces of furniture that obstruct your movement. Non-slip surfaces in the form of shower mats or non-skid strips can be easily applied to the bottom of your bathtub and to stairs. If you have hardwood floors, always wax them with a skid-proof product. NIH offers an in-depth guide to indoor and outdoor home safety.
Check Medications: According to an article in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, 72% of individuals age 55 and older take medication. The article reports the findings of a 2009 study, which shows a significant correlation between falls and the use of sedatives, hypnotics, antidepressants, and benzodiazepines. Specifically, antidepressants had the highest increased connection with falls. If you’re taking a medication, check the prescription label. Some medicines have side effects and may cause dizziness or other symptoms that can increase the risk of falling. If you’re concerned about your prescriptions, speak with your health care provider regarding alternative options.
Implement a Strengthening Plan: Strong bones help us to stay upright and balance as we move. Consider engaging in an exercise program that helps to combat the progression of decreased bone health. South County Physical Therapy, Inc. (SCPT) utilizes the MEEKS Method, a proven and comprehensive approach for the treatment of osteoporosis and osteopenia. Those who participate in this program improve their posture, balance, strength and flexibility, while reducing their risk of falls and fractures.
Avoiding falls can help you maintain your quality of life, remain independent, and sustain peace of mind. If you’re concerned about the risk of falls, talk to your family, your doctor, and the physical therapy experts at SCPT. Together, we can develop a safety net to keep your feet firmly planted on the ground.