Among people over 65, falls are not quite inevitable, but they are very common. A quarter of these individuals suffer a serious fall at least once a year. Many of these people are repeat fallers, which indicates that they may not have fully recovered from the prior incident.
Fall recovery involves a lot more than standing back up because falls involve more than a physical cause. If seniors don’t adequately address all three areas, the risk of a repeat fall increases significantly. So, it’s important to know how to protect yourself.
Fear is usually a very bad thing. Many fall victims are so afraid of a repeat fall that they alter their lifestyles in ways they hope will reduce this risk.
For example, many individuals cut back on their social activities. They may hardly leave their houses or apartments for days or weeks at a time. While the decreased movement also decreases the risk of a future fall, it also invites sedentary-based conditions and loneliness. Both these problems are significant issues for seniors.
An inactive lifestyle, on top of obesity and other effects, reduces muscle mass and impairs a sense of balance. So, too much time in the living room actually increases the risk of a fall and serious injury.
Loneliness is a big problem as well, even among married seniors. For one thing, There are a number of ill effects that may not always be readily apparent; for example, there’s some evidence that loneliness may foster addictive behavior in some people. Solitude is often the beginning of a downward spiral. People are less likely to pop over if they know or believe that the person would rather be alone, and the cycle continues.
The bottom line is that fear may be a natural reaction to a fall, but it’s not the proper reaction. Fall victims should be careful to avoid falls as outlined below, but they should not be afraid of them.
Exercise helps reduce the risk of falls and makes them less serious. Physical activity usually increases balance. The more you walk, the more your muscles know how to move and where to land. In other words, there’s a direct relationship between moving around and remaining upright even after a minor slip or trip.
Exercise also builds bone and muscle mass. Therefore, the trauma injuries are not as severe and they also heal more quickly.
Movement is good, and physical exercise is even better. Yoga and tai chi improve balance, add muscle mass, and improve overall wellness. There are many classes for seniors, even those with limited mobility. You can probably take advantage of these classes even during recovery, thanks to the variety of available devices which support natural gait and mobility while your body mends including boots for broken toe, wrist braces, and knee sleeves.
Finally, make some simple changes to your physical environment. Most people spend most of their time at home, so that’s a good place to start.
In the bathroom, install safety rails that provide extra leverage and balance as you stand up or sit down. Furthermore, make sure there’s a good non-slip mat in the bathtub. These adjustments do not mean that you are an invalid: they just mean that you are being smart about your health.
Living areas need some attention as well. Keep the floors clutter-free, even if that means hiring a maid. Do not put mats or rugs near the tops or bottoms of stairs, and make sure there is plenty of light in these places. In fact, make sure there is plenty of light around the whole house. Install nightlights as well.
A fall is a life-altering experience, and with a little effort, it can be life-altering in a good way.