Fall Risk and Prevention

Many senior citizens have a fear of falling – and with good reason. About 1 in 3 adults over 65 will fall at least once this year.

And it’s not just that we don’t bounce back up as quickly as we get older. Falls are the number one cause of fatal injuries and fractures, and 1.6 million seniors go the emergency room for falls every year.

Did you know that physical therapists are trained to assess your risk of falling and help you improve your balance, strength and confidence to move around more safely?

Some common reasons for falls in older adults include:

  • low blood pressure
  • neuropathy
  • decreased strength or vision
  • taking multiple medications
  • problems with your inner ear

One common inner ear problem associated with falls is a type of diagnosis known as Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo or BPPV. BPPV is when the tiny crystals located in the urticle of your inner ear become dislodged and fall into one of three semicircular canals.  The crystals then interfere with the normal fluid movement in the canals and send false signals to your brain about the position of your head. It can come on suddenly and often happens when you turn over in bed.  This affects your balance and makes your feel nauseated.

“It feels like the room is spinning when you change positions,” says Strive! Health and Rehabilitation Regional Outpatient Services Director Dr. Lisa Hayden-Chapman, PT.  “We can help you eliminate that condition with 2 to 4 physical therapy visits.”

Tips from Strive! Physical Therapists to prevent falls:

  • Don’t be in such a rush! Sit up for a moment before you get out of bed, and stand in front of your chair for a moment before you start walking to make sure you don’t feel dizzy or lightheaded.
  • If you feel more steady with a cane or walker, use it, even in your own home.
  • Make sure your home is free from clutter, including throw rugs, pet toys or extension cords you could trip over.
  • Have nightlights in the bathroom and a light beside the bed so your home is well lit in case you need to get up during the night.