As we prepare for Fall Prevention Awareness week, allow us to recommend to you some activities to do during that week. Enjoy!
What Exercises Should I Do For Balance and Fall Prevention?
Fall Prevention Awareness Week is a national health campaign observed on the first day of fall to increase awareness around fall injury prevention. The coronavirus pandemic has changed a lot of things. But one thing that’s still the same is that falling is not a normal part of aging. Falls threaten the safety and independence of older Americans and can create a heavy economic and personal burden. This week we will explore different areas of fall risk and prevention. In California alone, 1.3 million older adults experience an injury due to falling. A person is more likely to fall if he/she is age 80 or older or if he/she has previously fallen. Over time people may feel unsteady when walking due to changes in physical abilities such as vision, hearing, sensation, and balance. People who become fearful of falling may reduce their involvement in activities.
Studies show that balance, flexibility, and strength training not only improve mobility but also reduce the risk of falling. Statistics show that most older adults do not exercise regularly, and 35% of people over the age of 65 do not participate in any leisure physical activity. This lack of exercise only makes it harder for individuals to recover after a fall. Many people are afraid of falling or falling again and reduce their physical activity even more. There are many creative and low-impact forms of physical activity for fall prevention. By working with your Wellness, Fitness, and Therapy Specialist teams assessing and making changes to your balance, flexibility, and strength a person can feel safer and less at risk of falling.
Click here for a Free Fall Checkup:
If you score 4 or above please reach out to your physician and your Therapy Specialist team for an individual assessment.
Watch our video here for Exercises You can do at home for balance and fall prevention:
What are some signs of balance loss other than falling?
Falling is a very common and often serious problem for older adults.
If you or a loved one have had even a minor fall, or is feeling at risk to fall you should tell your doctor, your nurse in the Wellness Center, and/ or contact your Therapy Specialist Team. These professionals can often help a lot with simple interventions, such as adjusting the fit of your cane or walker, a review of your medication(s), or even getting new eyeglasses. Your doctor or Therapist can determine your risk of falling and help you avoid falling in the future.
What are some warning signs You should look out for in yourself or a loved one?
- Sense of motion or spinning (vertigo)
- Feeling of faintness or lightheadedness (presyncope)/ Feeling a floating sensation or dizziness.
- Loss of balance or unsteadiness.
- Falling or feeling like you might fall.
- Increase of “tripping” on things.
- Vision changes, such as blurriness.
- Confusion/ mental status changes.
By working with your Wellness and Therapy Specialist team assessing and making changes to the home and community environment, and training for handling hazards, a person can feel safer and less at risk of falling.
Watch our video here for tips and signs of balance loss:
What equipment and assistive technology could help me decrease falls and balance loss?
Technology is helping us in so many aspects of our lives today. How can it help us with fall prevention? The National Center for Biotechnology Information defines Assistive technology as devices, equipment, products, or systems that support a person to increase or maintain their ability to perform a task or increases the ease and/or safety with which a task can be performed (WHO 2004). The aim of assistive technology, for fall prevention, is on safe performance of mobility or tasks.
Examples of assistive technologies for fall prevention include personal mobility devices (e.g. walking aids); body‐worn aids (e.g. antislip devices for shoes, orthotic footwear); communication and sensory (e.g. eyeglasses, hearing aids); protection (e.g. alarm sensors and systems); and self-care aids (e.g. grab bars or other self-care aids and adaptive equipment). These interventions are most successful when they include education on reducing the risk of falls specific to the intervention. Mobility devices and adaptive equipment are most successful when they are fitted to the person and their specific environment and needs. Your Therapy Specialists, Occupational and Physical Therapy teams can help introduce you to state-of-the-art technologies and make sure that any that you may be interested in are set up to help you be most successful.
Watch our video here for tips on how to fit a walker to your height:
I feel unsteady when I am getting dressed or undressed, or in the bathroom. I don’t want to fall in the shower!
Although falls are the leading cause of injury and accidental death in adults over the age of 65, they can be prevented. By taking control of your health and utilizing the resources available to you, you can reduce your risk of falls and continue to participate in the activities that you enjoy. You are not alone in your efforts to manage your fall risk. Occupational therapy practitioners (that is, occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants), your nursing team, fitness team, and many people in your community are dedicated to supporting your health and well-being. But you are the leader of your fall prevention team. How you feel and what you prefer are essential.
An occupational therapy home safety assessment involves carefully evaluating a person’s abilities and determining whether the home environment fits the person and supports independence. Room-by-room checks for safety hazards, combined with a thorough assessment of a person’s functioning in the home, provide a complete picture of home safety. Occupational therapy practitioners consider many things when determining whether something is or is not a safety hazard—including how the person moves around the home and the habits that increase or reduce fall risk.
In short, the evidence available to date suggests that a one-size-fits-all approach to home safety will not reduce fall risks. That’s the difference occupational therapy makes: an occupational therapy practitioner puts you in the center of any changes recommended.
Watch our video here for How to get your sock on if I can’t bend over?:
Will exercise help prevent falls?
Fall risk factors are commonly placed into three categories: behavioral, environmental, and physical- but keep in mind that risk factors frequently interact to cause a fall.
- Behavioral risk factors are the things we do or don’t do that increase our fall risk. For example, not asking for help when doing something that might cause a fall is a behavioral risk factor. (E.g. climbing a ladder to reach something up high).
- Environmental risk factors are hazards in our home or community such as loose throw rugs or unclear pathways, or even pets in our way!
- Physical risk factors relate to changes in your body that increase your risk for a fall. Impaired balance is an example of a physical risk factor.
We can change those physical risk factors! Aerobic exercise is important to keep ourselves steady and strong. Your Doctor and PT can step in to help develop a program specific to you. Many of us have become less active this past year and are not sure where to start. It is good to start with exercise, even just 10 mins at a time, at a moderate intensity (getting slightly short of breath, but can carry on a conversation). Great places to start are brisk walking, swimming, or a visit to the gym. Start today and build from there. The exercise can be simple. There are many opportunities to participate with others in active exercise here in the community, or you can look for a walking buddy. These small steps will pay off for heart health, balance, and fall prevention.
Watch our video here for some tips on how much to exercise if you have cardiopulmonary issues: