It’s common for seniors to be afraid of a fall, and for good reason. While a fall can be harmless, many falls and loss of balance result in injuries that can severely limit your independence or even lead to death, especially as you get older.
Fear of falling carries its own consequences, however. The National Council on Aging (NCOA) reports that seniors who are afraid of falling might limit their activities or social interactions. This can lead to depression and social isolation, which might actually increase your risk of falling.
So what can you do to prevent falls while still maintaining your active lifestyle? How can you live in less fear of a serious fall? Working to improve your balance is a smart place to start. Balance is a key piece of an effective fall-prevention plan as well as a way to improve your independence profile.
Balance In Seniors
As you age, multiple factors converge that can diminish your ability to maintain balance. Common causes for balance problems in seniors include:
- Muscle weakness
- Conditions that affect bone structure
- Conditions that lower blood pressure
- Medications causing dizziness or a lightheaded feeling
- Decreased eyesight
- Loss of coordination
- Lack of activity and decreased mobility
Fortunately, you can address several of these issues with the help of your healthcare team. A conversation with your doctor is a good first step. It’s important to always let your doctor know if you’ve had a fall and to tell your medical team about any pain or medication side effects you experience.
Strength, Fitness, Mobility
You can address your balance by building muscle strength and improving your fitness and mobility through exercise. Your balance is like a muscle—the more you train it, the stronger it will be.
Being active in general is likely to improve your balance, but which activities will help you the most? This is a great question for your physical therapist. A physical therapist can assess your risk of falling and, together, you and your physical therapist can design a plan with exercises in balance, mobility, and strength training. You might not think of strength training as a typical exercise for seniors, but an exercise regimen that includes strength training can slow down your body’s aging, and balance is an essential part of that goal.
Your physical therapist can help you to manage any fears or pain you’re experiencing, while also determining whether you need a walking aid such as a cane or a walker. Working with a professional will increase your confidence in maintaining your balance and pursuing an active lifestyle.
Balance And Coordination
Your PT also can look at a related issue—loss of coordination. If you’ve been having trouble with hand-eye-coordination, moving objects, or just navigating spaces as you walk, coordination exercises might be for you. With the help of a physical therapist, you can make sure you can lift loads safely and react to sudden changes fast enough to stay on your feet.
Working on your balance can help you prevent falls and maintain your independence. If you’re worried about falling, Heather Lane is here to help. Click here to schedule a free phone consultation to find out more about the balance and fall prevention services we offer and get an idea of the services that would best suit your needs.
The National Council on Aging, Falls Prevention Facts, https://www.ncoa.org/news/resources-for-reporters/get-the-facts/falls-prevention-facts/