National Council of Aging offers alarming facts for our readers to bring awareness to you and your loved ones about fall risks in our Senior population. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention states:
- One-fourth of Americans aged 65+ fall each year
- Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.
- Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.
Those facts are quite shocking, aren't they? But there is good news! There are ways to avoid adding to the statistics! Physical Therapy offers balance strategies, strength building, and safety education to help you or your loved one become more confident navigating in the house, in the grocery store, and in the neighborhood.
Here are helpful tips on how to prevent a fall!
Sit to stand: Pick a sturdy chair or surface to sit on that will not move easily. To stand, place feet flat on the floor about hip width apart. Lean forward with your nose over your toes while at the same time squeezing your bottom pressing up tall. You can have your arms out in front of you for leverage if needed. As you sit down, stick your bottom back reaching for the chair SLOWLY lowering to a seated position. Use your arms as needed on the chair. No plopping!
Heel Raises: Use a steady surface like a kitchen or bathroom counter. Place feet about hip width apart and raise up onto your toes keeping your knees and whole body straight. Control this movement slowly up and slowly down.
Knee Extension: To perform this exercise, lay down and place a pillow or rolled towel under the knee joint. Then, press the back of the knee into the pillow or rolled towel to lift your heel off the floor.
Clams: Lay down on your side, and bend your knees, resting one on top of the other. Then, while you keep your feet together, lift the upper knee away from the other knee, holding them apart for a count of 10 seconds. Slowly lower your knee back down. While performing this exercise, make sure that you do not roll your hips back.
Wall Sits: For this exercise, lean against a flat wall, placing your feet in front of you. Make sure your feet are far enough out that your knees are right over your toes. Using the wall to support your weight and your back, slowly bend your knees to lower yourself down. Hold this position for 10 seconds, if you can. Slide back up, supporting your weight on the wall, until you are in a standing position.
Standing Hip Abduction: Hold on to a stable surface, standing straight and tall while you transfer your weight to one side. Swing the other leg to the side. Use your balance to hold this position for 10 seconds. Slowly lower your leg back down. Repeat a few times, as long as you have the strength, and then switch legs.
Balance Progression: Start with hands on steady surface with feet together, then slowly remove hands as you feel comfortable. If able to maintain position without loss of balance or excessive swaying, try lifting one leg off the ground next attempt.
*Recommended to keep steady surface or assistive device with you at all times.
Walking Forward, Backward and Sideways: Recommended to keep steady surface or assistive device with you at all times, or ask a loved one to help.
- Remove or secure throw rugs with gripper pads to avoid tripping
- Remove clutter and rearrange furniture to keep walking paths clear
- If you have stairs at the house, take them slowly with hands on handrails and keep the step clearly marked with tape. If no handrails, have them built in.
- Install grab bars in showers and near toilets to assist if loss of balance.
- Place chair in shower to rest when feeling tired and if loss of balance.
- Use grabbers when reaching for items too high out of reach.
- Keep pathways well lit with lamps.
Reclaim Your Stability With These Balance Exercises for Stroke Recovery
Project Home SAFE by Fall Prevention Center of Excellence
USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology
Preventing Falls: Exercises for Strength and Balance
Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington, 2018
National Council on Aging