|Active Lifestyle May Prevent Falls - Photo by Bill Branson|
The potential for serious injuries resulting from falls is enormous and may include traumatic brain injuries and fractures. Many seniors who suffer from a fall may require a lengthy recovery in a long-term care facility. People who have fallen previously might hesitate to resume normal activities, which can lead to reduced physical fitness and an increased risk for falling again.
Along with the detrimental affects to one's personal life, falls also carry a sizable price tag. In 2010, direct costs related to falls in the United States increased to $30 billion.
The CDC recommends several fall prevention strategies, including:
- Regular exercise
- Medication reviews with one's physician
- Eye exams annually
- Reduction of tripping hazards in the home
|Senior Walking - Photo from Wikimedia Commons by National Cancer Institute|
Consider several factors when choosing a walking program, such as:
- Condition of the walking surface
- Availability of emergency care
- Distance from one's home/convenience of location
- Meet other people and walk together
- Walk a dog – ensure that the dog walks well on a leash first
- Change the route or the direction of the route
- Try water walking
- Carry something you wish to memorize (inspirational quotes, Bible verses, famous people, etc.)
- Listen to music – ensure that you can also hear warning noises
- Try a treadmill, indoor track, outdoor track, mall, walking trail, etc.
- Lengthen/shorten the stride
- Lifting the knees
- Alter one's speed
- Going up/down steps and/or hills
- Trying various appropriate settings on the treadmill
- Tai Chi
- Chair Yoga
- Iyengar Yoga
- Muscular Strength/Toning/Range of Movement
- Water Fitness
- Equine Programs
|Balance Exercises May Prevent Falls - Photo by Stougard|
Those who are afraid they might fall while focusing on balance exercises might wish to stand near a wall or sturdy chair. However, it can be tempting to use the wall or chair more than needed. I encourage participants to use their fingertips on the chair or wall unless they truly need more support. Another great option for those who feel unsteady is to try water exercises. Those who cannot stand can strengthen many muscles associated with balance in a seated or lying position.
Devoting time each day to focus on one's physical health can prove to be a great investment that may improve or maintain one's functional abilities and quality of life. Many people say that hindsight is 20/20, but I like to think of foresight through regular exercise as 20/10!
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AARP June 13, 2008 article Avoid a Bad Fall by Exercising to Improve Your Balance by Cathie Gandel.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention article Falls Among Older Adults: An Overview last updated September 20, 2012.
Mayo Clinic article Fall Prevention: 6 Tips to Prevent Falls last updated July 10, 2010.