A fall is any unexpected event where you lose your balance that may or may not result with your landing on the ground. When we are young we fall all the time without too much worry. However as we age, the risk of injury and long term medical problems after a fall increase. Risk factors for falls include, increased age, osteoporosis, depression, cognitive impairment, visual problems, and a history of neurological and/or cardiovascular disorders. We have less control over the risk factors listed above, but there is still plenty that one can do. Here are five easy fall prevention tips to help keep you safe at home:
- Strengthening: When you lose your balance, it should be your legs that help you regain your balance. Here are some exercises that will help to strengthen your legs.
Calf Raises: Use wall for balance as your lift your heels as high as you can, keeping your knees straight. Goal 30x a day.
A squat is going to strengthen many muscles in thighs and legs. the key to doing a squat is to replicate how you get in/out of a chair. Goal would be to do 10-30+ a day, increasing repetitions if unweighted.
- Balance Training: Balance is like a muscle, the more you work it the stronger it gets, in the same way, no matter how active or sedentary/unbalanced you are there is room for improvement. Check out this video to see if you are at risk for falls. To improve your balance, visit a PT or consider taking classes like Tai Chi or yoga. At home you can work on balancing on 1 leg or standing in tandem (see photo). If you don’t know where to start or feel unsafe, call a PT or your doctor.
- Dizziness: The sensation of vertigo or feeling “off/wobbly” can be an inner ear problem and can be treated with vestibular PT, click here for more information.
- Home Modifications: Fall prevention starts in the home. More often than not people fall in their homes because of tripping or poor lighting. There are various ways that you can modify your home if you feel like you may fall.
- Keep pathways clear and open
- Remove throw rugs
- Put items commonly used at convenient heights
- Add a railing to all steps
- Add grabbars in the bathroom
Following these recommendations for fall prevention will help to reduce your risk for falls and keep you independent in your home as long as possible!