Rehabilitiation: Balance Therapy
Preventing Falls Key to Staying Independent
Falling is normal for toddlers who are just learning to walk. Many seniors also experience falls, but losing balance does not need to be part of the aging experience. "One out of every three older adults will fall each year," says Syndi Bultman, Lee Memorial Health System trauma injury prevention and resource manager.
"Of those who fall, 20-30 percent suffer moderate to severe injuries. Once a person falls, he or she is more likely to fall again." Falls often result in serious injuries, including:
- Hip fractures
- Pelvic injuries
- Wrist and arm fractures
- Head and neck trauma
More than half of all falls occur in the home. Many of these are preventable, caused by everyday hazards such as improper lighting, clutter, throw rugs on slippery floors, vision problems and osteoporosis. "People need to be aware of the risk factors," Syndi says. "When getting a new medication from their physician they need to ask what the medication is for, when to take it, how much to take, how often, how long possible side effects may last and what activities to avoid."
Syndi also recommends that seniors have an annual physical exam that includes vision, blood pressure and safety checks, a medication review and a balance evaluation. "Getting the help you may need before a fall can mean the difference in staying in your own home or having to live with assistance," says Mark Tesoro, injury prevention educator, Lee Memorial Health System Trauma Center. "Just because you are 75 or 80 years old doesn't mean you are going to fall. A fall is indicative of other problems that we need to identify and correct."
Preventing Falls in the Elderly