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FALLING INTO SAFETY PREVENTING A FALL STARTS WITH BEING PROACTIVE As we age, what we lose in agility we gain in wisdom. But wisdom can’t always clear the path for a healthy, productive life. Sometimes older citizens find themselves, through no fault of their own, in potentially life-threatening situations simply by moving through the house. A stroll to go pick up the mail or even walking the dog can turn dangerous if you don't have the proper balance. Simply put, there’s no way to avoid all the challenges life may throw at you, but precaution begins with prevention, and prevention begins with being proactive. Concerns about falling are completely warranted. One-third of those over 65 have reported being in a serious fall. If that isn’t shocking enough, further statistics may surprise you: When an elderly person falls, their stay in the hospital is almost twice as long as those of elderly patients admitted for any other reason, and two-thirds of individuals who have fallen will become a victim to another fall within six months. Unfortunately, falls also seem to discriminate because the chance of sustaining a serious injury from a fall is greater for women than men. And it’s not just hospital bills and mobility that you need to worry about, either. Falls can be lethal. They’re the
leading cause of death from injury among those 65 and older, which translates to nearly 10,000 deaths each year, most occurring in those aged 75 and older. All hope is not lost, of course, because with preventive measures, your risk of falling greatly decreases. Two important prevention techniques are vision checkups and medication checkups. Many falls occur due to a lack of visual acuity, either from poor eyesight or from prescription-induced impairment. Having regular checkups with your trusted physicians can help keep you in the clear, too. Another series of safeguards includes working on your balance, evaluating the safety of your environment, and improving your situational awareness. Many seniors suffer from chronic ailments that can affect the way they walk. Meeting with a professional physical therapist can help remedy this situation and give better mobility. It’s also important to understand where you’re walking and what threats there are in those areas. A good strategy to increase safety is to walk through your home with someone you trust who can point out blind spots, slick surfaces, tripping
points, and sharp edges. Then, you can take action by rearranging your environment as much as possible to prevent these things from playing a role in a fall. Finally, knowing what to do when you fall is the last line of defense in making sure your injuries don’t worsen. If you fall, it is important to remain calm. While being aware of your surroundings, try to make noise to draw attention to yourself. Call for help as soon as possible, and before help arrives, wrap yourself in a warm blanket. Make sure to change your position without overexertion. Do this about every half hour to ensure better circulation. Whether you’re worried about a potential fall or trying to recover from one, the professionals at APN Physical Therapy will help you get back on your feet and pursuing your passions again. There is no better time to act than now. This March 19, we are offering an exclusive — and more importantly free — fall and balance examination. Call our office at 732-244-7004 to reserve your spot today, and put your worries about falling to rest!
– Peter B. McHugh PT
• 1 (732) 244-7004
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