Older folks can be gravely injured when they take a fall. In fact, the National Council on Aging tells us that “falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans.” That’s why National Falls Prevention Awareness Day exists. This year, we observe Falls Prevention Awareness on September 22 – aptly chosen, because it’s the first day of fall!
There are so many reasons why older folks are prone to falling:
- Medications that may make them dizzy or drowsy
- Dangers throughout the house haven’t been eliminated – things like rugs without non-slip padding beneath them, inadequate lighting, electrical cords in a high-traffic area, and no grab bars in the shower
- Wearing shoes that have slippery soles or that don’t fit properly
- Progression of osteoarthritis, which means joints aren’t as supportive as they used to be
- Lack of exercise which makes muscles weak
- Bad vision
When it comes down to the nitty-gritty, though, older people are falling because they’ve lost their balance. Even if you start to fall because of glasses with an outdated prescription, or that stack of books you left in the hallway, good balance skills can help you from actually hitting the floor.
Balance Exercises for Seniors
Dr. Craig B. Frey and Dr. Megan L. Oltmann of Foot & Ankle Associates of Cleveland recommend that seniors reduce their risk of falling by practicing balance exercises. Make sure you have something to grab onto if needed while you’re practicing these!
- Sitting and standing: practice getting up from a chair without using your hands; sit; repeat.
- Balance on one foot: you can do this while waiting in line at the grocery store, washing dishes, or talking on the phone.
- Shift your weight from one foot to the other.
- Take a group exercise class designed to improve balance, such as Tai Chi or yoga.
Finally, don’t forget that your feet and ankles are your body’s foundation! Take care of them to help you stay balanced and upright. Call Foot & Ankle Associates of Cleveland at the first sign of pain, numbness, or injury. We offer early, late, and Saturday hours at our state-of-the art podiatry office in Solon, Ohio. Contact us online or call us at (440) 903-1041.