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Let’s talk about falls among older adults

February 13, 2009

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission relased a study completed in 2005 that stated:

Among those 75 and older, about three quarters (77%) of emergency room visits associated with consumer products involved falls. Adults 65 to 74 had a lower proportion of falls (59%). Typical scenarios for falls included:

  •  Falls down stairs (while descending or ascending).
  •  Transitioning from standing to sitting (and vice versa) on furniture, toilets, beds, bathtubs, etc.
  •  Falls from tripping over loose carpets, cords, and other obstacles on the floor.
  •  Falling off ladders and step stools.

As we age, balance becomes so much more critical.  Associated with loss of leg strength,  the onset of  a forward lean due to poorer posture and shuffling steps,  fall are much more likely to occur.

So,  you may ask, “what can we do to offset this issue?”

Exercises to increase strength, body awareness, balance, coordination and flexibility are critical to increasing fall prevention.  Senior Yoga, Tai Chi and programs like my own ChiForLiving are geared to increase the capabilities of older adults.

A  good program will increase strength which aids in building capabilities and  increases your sense of stability and decrease the fear of falling.   When choosing your program, look for one that is specifically designed for older adults  and include exercises you feel comfortable with and meets your specific needs.  Should the exercises seem to hard, or the instructor works at to high a level then the class is not for you.

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One Comment
  1. Amen to all that! There are a couple other issues to consider that are connected to living space.

    As we age, our eyes age too, and sometimes, lighting that worked well when we were younger doesn’t work so well. You may need to improve the lighting around stairwells and in transitional areas such as doorways and on porches.

    You may also need to pay some attention to level changes in flooring (get rid of them – or get a contractor to change out shallow steps for gradual ramps). If you have loose rugs, you may want to replace them with wall-to-wall carpeting or a hard surface (which is also easier to maintain and clean). Level changes and lighting – as well as the loose rugs and cords Stan mentioned – often contribute to falls on stairs.

    In addition, it’s well worth considering falls in the bathroom. Your tub should have a traction mat at the very least, and it’s also likely that you will at some point need to install a grab bar to help with entering and exiting the tub.

    Like

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