Fall Risk Prevention & Balance
Balance and fall risk are connected. People with weak balance have a much higher fall risk. On the other hand, people with good posture have a much smaller chance of taking a tumble. Poor posture also has a dramatic effect on an older adults likelihood of falling.
Risk of Falling in Older Adults
According to the National Safety Council, over 1.5 million people over 65 are seriously injured each year in falls. In fact, it causes nearly 14,000 deaths annually. And, another quarter suffer debilitating injuries that affect them for the rest of their lives. In addition, poor posture affects how well your heart can pump blood, and even how well you can breathe.
Almost 1/3 of people over the age of 65 experiences a fall each year. This number rises significantly as people get older. Statistics show that more than half of the population over 80 will experience a fall in the course of a year. Unfortunately, once someone has experienced a fall, they are two to three times more likely to fall again.
Injuries impacting older adults
Falls are the cause of 25% of all hospital admissions, and 40% of all nursing home admissions. 40% of older adults admitted for care due to a fall are not able to return to independent living; and more alarmingly, it’s been reported that 25% die within a year. Falls are considered the leading cause of death due to injury among the elderly.
Fall Risk Causes Fear and Inactivity
Because taking a tumble can lead to traumatic injuries, people who experience loss of balance often begin to avoid and reduce activity for fear of it happening again. Unfortunately, this avoidance of activity can lead to weaker muscles, less endurance, adapted posture, and compromised stability, ultimately making the person even more likely to experience another fall.
Fall Risk Assessment
There are things you can do to change the odds. Getting help after experiencing a fall improves the chance of survival by about 80% and will increase the likelihood of returning to independent living, and normal daily activities. Doing exercises to improve balance, posture, awareness and activity levels can also help. Making a change begins with becoming aware of our posture, retraining our motion patterns, and then developing new habits.
Balance Test & Improve Balance
A proactive step for a fall risk assessment is the One Leg Balance test. You’ll get forewarning of any balance problems. And, can take steps to improve balance and get ahead of serious issues.
One Leg Balance – Stork
- Stand up straight.
- Lift your knee so your foot comes off the ground.
- Slowly start counting. (STOP the first time you put your foot down or wave your arms to balance.
- Repeat on the other side.
Were you able to balance on each leg for at least 30 seconds? If not, this is a sign of weak balance. You can start training better balance by repeating the one leg balance on a daily basis. In a short matter of time you’ll see you’re standing upright one one leg longer. The steadier you become, the smaller your chances of suffering a fall.
Exercise Can Help
The common bent over posture of old age occurs as a result of the body adapting to long-term poor posture. Injuries and age cause the joints to stiffen and the muscles to tighten. As posture becomes more bent forward the muscles have to work harder to keep the body balanced, which makes the muscles progressively tighter.
StrongPosture® exercises teach control and balance. When we start to fall, we can say we have bad balance, or we can see it is a way of learning where our inside reality and the outside reality disagree. Being conscious of a problem is the first step to change. Incorporating the systematized StrongPosture® program into your routine in just a few minutes each day will set you on a path to strengthening balance, alignment, and motion. Over time you’ll be surprised not only at the difference in how you feel, but even how others see you.
The bottom line is, when you keep moving, you feel good, age well and balance well!
Dr. Steven Weiniger