As we age, the risk of falling increases greatly. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), one in four Americans 65+ fall each year and every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall. Further, every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall. Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults. With or without injury, falls carry a heavy impact on quality of life; the fear of falling can cause older adults to limit activities and social engagements which lead to further physical decline, depression, social isolation, and a feeling of helplessness. However, falling is not an inevitable result of aging. Some falls can be prevented and the risks can be minimized when we understand some of the common causes of falls and take action.
Here are some of the risk factors for older adults:
1) A decline in physical fitness: As we age, we lose strength, muscle mass and balance… all of which increase the risk of falling. A fitness program to increase mobility, functional strength and balance are key in preventing falls.
2) Environmental factors: Poor lighting, rain, ice, toys and other clutter on the floor, and area rugs that do not lie flat all increase one’s risk of falling. A good falls prevention program can make you aware of these risk factors and can help you develop strategies for minimizing these risks.
3) Medications: Many medications have side effects that cause low blood pressure, dizziness, and even drowsiness. Sometimes these side effects are made worse when multiple medications are being taken. Talk to your physician about reducing the impact of such medications.
4) Chronic Diseases: Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis and even Arthritis can increase the risk of falling. Progression of these diseases often results in physical limitations and inactivity. A falls prevention program will address mobility and balance issues, offer tips for improving and maintaining strength, and can make you aware of environmental issues that can increase your risk of falling.
The takeaway … stay fit, stay alert, and know the side effects of all of your medications. Many falls can be prevented.
-Bonita Bay Club Fitness Center