'Fall,' another bad 4-letter word

Thu, 02/09/2023 - 10:00am

With the leading cause of accidental death in persons 65 and older “Fall” is a bad 4-letter word and not enough is being done about it. Why? Because we typically do not concern ourselves with something that isn’t currently our problem. Many people say” I don’t fall so why should I worry about it.” I don’t know about you but I fall down often and as someone who teaches Balance and Fall prevention daily and I still FALL how can this really be avoided? I am here to tell you it can’t be but you can help minimize falling by taking some simple steps.

First, know the facts. The latest Center for Disease Control, lists the following:

Facts About Older Adult Falls, CDC Sept 6, 2022

• About 36 million falls are reported among older adults each year—resulting in more than 32,000 deaths.
• Each year, about 3 million older adults are treated in emergency departments for a fall injury.
• One out of every five falls causes an injury, such as broken bones or a head injury.
• Each year at least 300,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures.
• More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling—usually by falling sideways.
• Women fall more often than men and account for three-quarters of all hip fractures

Second, let your doctor know you have a fear of falling or have fallen:

Since 2005 I’ve been a Master trainer for the Program “A Matter of Balance” and believe me I’ve heard of and seen many falls that resulted in severe injuries and death right here in our own community. When you go to the doctor, they always ask you “have you fallen lately.” Most will reply No, because you do not want to be looked at as old, weak, unable to care for yourself, and lose your independence. All of these are normal feelings and reactions for someone who is aging. However, this is a serious issue and one that should not be put on the back burner. Ask yourself the following questions:

1. Sometimes I feel unsteady when I am walking
2. I steady myself by holding onto furniture when I am walking around my home
3. I am worried about falling
4. I need to use my hands to push myself up from a chair
5. I have trouble stepping up onto a curb or a step
6. I have lost some feeling in my feet
7. I often feel light headed or more tired than usual
8. I do not see as well as I used to

If you answered YES to any of these questions then you need to do the following:

• Get a physical checkup each year
• Review all your medicines with your doctor or pharmacist
• Get a medical eye exam yearly

Additionally, how does one know if they have issues with balance and are a FALL risk if they haven’t fallen? Do this test.

1.Stand sideways to the kitchen counter and have 1 hand on the counter firmly and the other out to the side
2.Lift the outside knee up as high as you can
3.Try and take your hand off the counter and count to 30.

If you can’t do this you have issues with Balance and are an immediate FALL RISK.

So, we are back to what can we do to help prevent ourselves from falling.

*Follow a regular exercise program that will increase your strength and balance
* Keep floors in your home free from tripping hazards
* Make often used items easily accessible
* Make sure there are no throw rugs with fringe and put rubber matting underneath them
* Install grab bars in the bathroom
*Secure hand rails and or install additional railings where there are steps
* Make sure areas in and outside your home are well lit and be aware of your surroundings

It all sounds like allot but trust me, if it will keep you from using bad 4 letter words than isn’t it worth it?