The Risk of Falling

March 13th, 2020

Have you ever lost your footing on wet or icy pavement causing you to fling your arms out and your heart to race?

Or have you ever gotten up in middle of the night stumbling in the dark to the bathroom only to catch yourself from falling by grabbing the furniture?

If you have, then you know how frightening losing your balance can be.

Ordinarily we take our balance for granted, but it is an important and vital part of our daily life.

In order to decrease the risk of falling, it’s important to understand some reasons why older adults fall. No one plans to take a fall and most older adults are not careless about their movements. Which means the problems must lie elsewhere. In most cases, falls in older adults are related to one or more of the following three causes:

Multitasking
Older adults who are trying to do two things at once are more likely to lose their footing or trip on something and are then unable to catch themselves or regain balance. As we get older, it becomes more important to plan each movement with care. Not only do you need to mind your balance, but reaction time may also be reduced so that you don’t have the speed necessary to prevent a fall once it begins.

Strength and Balance
​Speaking of balance, the ability to maintain your balance with stabilizing muscles is another concern for older adults. Muscles that are no longer strong or muscles that may not even know they should be helping with balance may no longer be able to keep you from falling at a critical moment. Keeping your muscles strong in your legs, back, trunk, and core are crucial to prevent falls and maintain your balance while moving around your home or walking out and about in the community.

Dizziness
​Finally, it is not uncommon for older adults to become dizzy due to a number of reasons. Getting up too quickly, running low on blood sugar, changes in vision, and being on multiple medications are just some of the many reasons that could cause someone to feel dizzy and you may find yourself falling. Being aware of these causes and knowing what to do when you do feel dizzy is important in reducing the risk of falling. If you suffer from head-rushes or dizzy spells, it is important to be prepared for this and know what to do if a dizzy spell comes upon you. This is another reason to be careful about multitasking.

If you are having difficulty with your balance, feel like you are at risk for falling or want more information, we have a specialist in our Haddonfield clinic, Dr. Anne Diaz-Arrastia, DPT who is able to provide risk assessments and a variety of treatments for balance issues.  Call us at 856-616-8000.