Winter is on its way and most weather experts, including the Farmer's Almanac, are predicting a cold and snowy winter for the North East... calling for a "frosty bite"! With cold weather comes slippery conditions. It is vital to take extra care to prevent slips and falls, especially for seniors as this can result in serious injury and be a life changing event.
Seniors are at risk of falling under the best of circumstances with one third of individuals over 65 falling every year. Falls in seniors are particularly dangerous as up to 30% will suffer moderate to severe injuries such as broken hips and brain injuries. Many of these injuries require nursing home care and increase the risk of early death. For falls that don't lead to an injury, many individuals will develop a fear of falling, leading to less movement, causing weakness and increased risk of falling.
With those serious consequences, most of us, especially seniors, should take precautions to prevent falls. A few tips include:
- Having your medications checked to identify those that may make you drowsy or dizzy
- Have your eyes checked as they are important for balance
- Look around the home for tripping hazards such as cords, throw rugs and clustered spaces
Finally you need to be sure your balance is as strong as it can be. A few key identifiers to see if you are at risk for a fall include:
- I you need to use your arms to get up from a chair
- Need to hold onto furniture when walking
- You are extra careful doing everyday acts because you fear falling
These are some telltale signs you should get your balance checked by a health professional. Falls amongst seniors have been such a problem that the CDC created a questionnaire you can take to identify if you are at risk for a fall. Taking this test, along with a walking and balance screening, can identify if you should participate in a fall prevention program.
A fall prevention program can help people reduce their risk of falling by addressing the issues that cause falls such as mobility problems, weakness and dizziness. The key to a good fall prevention program is a Safety Overhead Harness (SOS) system which allows you to work on your balance while harnessed. This way, you know you will not fall, allowing you to challenge yourself and complete your exercises with less fear.
At FYZICAL Hazleton, we have Balance-Vestibular Therapists who have additional training in helping dizziness and preventing falls. This combined with our Safety Overhead Harness System allows us to identify and treat individuals at risk of falling. Reducing your fall risk can help your winter be tolerable and not be a disaster.
Not sure if you are at risk of falling?
Call FYZICAL Hazleton at 570-501-1808 and come in for a free fall risk screening which includes the CDC questionnaire. To learn more, watch our TV show 'Wellness Through FYZICAL Therapy' on WYLN or visit www.FYZICAL.com.