Safe Patient Solutions is dedicated to sharing information and ideas regarding Fall Assessment, Fall Prevention, Fall Detection, and Fall Recovery. I was pleased to visit several recent informative websites specifically dedicated to the prevention of falls. 1) The National Council on Aging (http://www.ncoa.org/press-room/fact-sheets/falls-prevention-fact-sheet.html), 2) Arizona’s Fall Preventions Coalition (http://www.azstopfalls.org/site/AboutUs.aspx), and 3) The Fall Prevention Center of Excellence (http://www.stopfalls.org/).
Fall Prevention Resources Summary
The above informative resources agree that fall prevention should be addressed by encouraging:
- Exercises to Improve Balance and Strength
- Medication Management
- Vision Correction
- Reducing Home Hazards
As a Physical Therapist, I spend much of my day educating my patients on the importance of balance and strengthening as a means to prevent falls. Weight bearing exercises assists in maintaining muscle mass, helps burn fat, and places needed tension on bones, all of which are essential in maintaining “bone density”. Strong bones are simply more resistant to fracturing during a fall.
Many seniors don’t realize they are gradually losing muscle strength and don’t take preventive measures. It is not unusual for an individual to lose about 1% or 1/3 of a pound of muscle mass each year! As people age, the dynamic process of muscle breakdown begins to exceed the rate in which new muscle is formed. While we may not be able to prevent the loss of muscle mass as we age, the process of muscle loss can be slowed down by performing weight-bearing exercises and ensuring adequate amount of protein in our diet (a future blog topic).
I inform my patients that individuals can think of their legs as pillars of a building. If we allow our “pillars” to weaken, the body can and will fall. Improving physical fitness is important in reducing the fear of falling. Inactivity leads to weakness and imbalance, and we know from above these lead to falls! Please consult the services of a Physical Therapist should you feel you are limiting your activity level for any reason. Physical Therapists can help you improve strength, mobility, balance, and even teach you how to safely get yourself up from the floor (http://www.azstopfalls.org/site/FallPrevention/FearofFalling.aspx).