How to Identify if You or a Loved One is at Risk of a Fall
This article about the risk of a fall was written by FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers, Lincoln Park, IL
As you age, you gain a great deal. You gain knowledge, wisdom, and love from so many people! Another area where you might improve is when it comes to knowledge about the world around you. Yet, as you age, you also lose a little bit of the spunk and energy you once had.
As a result, your bones and muscle strength deteriorate if you don’t maintain a certain level of physical fitness.
With the onset of COVID-19, your life likely changed a great deal, even if you haven’t gotten sick. Being separated from loved ones and friends is hard enough – but what happens when your daily routine changes, too?
Since self-isolation is a big part of staying safe during the pandemic, it is important that you minimize your fall risks whenever possible.
What is the risk of a fall, and how can falling impact your life?
Although falling is a natural occurrence, it’s not a part of life that you simply have to “deal with” as an older adult. This applies to those you may care for, too. In fact, you should be able to live a long, active life without the fear of falling or injury from a fall.
But how do you know if you’re at risk of a fall as you age?
If you feel unsteady at times, or like you shouldn’t partake in some of the physical activities you once enjoyed, you may be at risk of a fall. However, there are many other factors that can increase your fall risk you may not be aware of.
Keep reading to learn how to identify if you’re at risk of a fall. This post is also helpful if you are concerned about an older family member or loved one injuring themselves.
If you answer “Yes” to two or more of the following questions, you may be at risk of a fall:
- Have you fallen any time within the last 12 months?
- Do you have hearing loss?
- Is there a ringing or buzzing in your ears?
- Have you suffered a head injury?
- Are you experiencing recent confusion or disorientation?
- Do you rely on a cane or walker to get around?
- Are you experiencing severe or recurring headaches?
- Have you experienced episodes of dizziness or vertigo?
- Do you wear glasses or contact lenses?
- Have you noticed any changes (blurred or double vision) in your vision recently?
Environmental factors can increase the risk of a fall as well. Common environmental fall risks include:
- Excessive clutter
- Poor lighting
Any one or more of these factors can cause you to trip and fall in your home if you’re already unsteady on your feet. A fall at any time is dangerous, but when you’re alone, this danger only increases
I may be at risk of a fall, what should I do?
Simple steps can (and should) be taken in order to help prevent falls and decrease the potential for injury. This article lists some of the recommended ways to stay safe, but it’s not comprehensive. The steps that work best for individuals when it comes to minimizing the risk of a fall will vary. Choosing the right ones goes a long way toward improving balance and stability without sacrificing movement.
If you or a loved one is at risk of a fall, sitting down is the worst thing you can do (literally and metaphorically).
Contrary to popular belief, you should not decrease your risk by moving less. Doing this will actually increase your risk further. When you become less active, your strength and coordination deteriorate. That’s why it’s absolutely necessary that you improve your strength and mobility in order to prevent any future falls or injuries.
After asking yourself the questions above (or asking them to your loved ones), it’s time to take the next step.
The first thing you should do is schedule a fall risk assessment with a physical therapist in person and virtually. An in-person assessment will allow a therapist to test your balance, your sensation, your strength, and your flexibility. A physical therapist will be able to create a plan of care that helps you safely improve your balance and decrease your fear of falling in the community. A Telehealth video session will give your therapist a chance to assess your home environment and make sure to give advice on what changes should be made to provide you with the safest situation that fits your fall risk needs.
However, not all physical therapy clinics are created equally when it comes to balance therapy and fall prevention.
Finding the right one with physical therapists that specialize in vestibular and balance therapy goes a long way toward helping you regain your safety and mobility. It also helps to decrease the risk of a fall, and increase overall strength and wellness.
The sooner you have your assessment, the sooner you’ll start to feel more like yourself again. Why is this important? The pandemic is making many aspects of life uncertain, but life and wellness shouldn’t be included in that category.
Look for a program like FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers. They are trained, capable, and professional when it comes to their treatment protocols for fall risks and stability.
To find a physical therapy provider near you and schedule your fall risk assessment (or to help a loved one schedule theirs), use the BetterPT clinic location tool. Another option is downloading the BetterPT app. Both options make it simple for you to find and connect with PT professionals, no matter where you live. For those still unsure about leaving their homes to have an in-person appointment, or for those wanting a personalized home assessment, telehealth services through the BetterTelehealth platform are an option, too.
The fall risk assessment is only the first step – take it today.
Once you know how risky your environment and overall health are, the real care begins. Treatment plans are designed to meet the needs of individual patients; it’s not “one size fits all”.
FYZICAL Therapy and Balance Centers in Lincoln Park, IL is an organization devoted to providing physical therapy and fitness guidance to clients. They operate based on evidence-based medical practices and research. Their goal is to help clients achieve a healthier way of life by taking control of their bodies and to expand their boundaries and capabilities. The overall goal of FYZICAL’s physical therapy professionals is to implement the most useful therapy programs in a hands-on manner. This is done in state of the art, friendly, and professional therapy environments.