Death rates from unintentional falls among adults aged ≥ 65 years increased 110%. For men the death rates were higher than women.
Nonfatal fall injuries are among the most costly health conditions among people 65 years and older, and falls are the number 1 reason why older adults loose independence.
Many fall risk factors are modifiable
Potentially modifiable risk factors for falling are; poor balance, mobility problems, impaired vision, and insufficient vitamin D. Contributing factors to falls include side effects of specific medication and the presence of home hazards. With each additional risk factor and having multiple risk factors the risk for falling increases such as an older adult with poor balance and impaired vision encounters a tripping hazard.
Most falls, death rate from falls and loss of independence due to falls being preventable, it is clear that too many older adults wait far too long before getting help. There are effective strategies that can be implemented to reduce risk factors for falling.
Screen, Assess, Intervene
Screening for fall risk, then assess to identify modifiable risk factors such as (1) poor balance, (2) mobility problems, (3) Medication side effects linked to falls, (4) vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency, (5) problems with vision, (6) poor depth perception or use of multifocal eyewear, (7) home hazards for falling.
Tailored Falls Prevention Strategies
Falls are not a normal part of aging, falls are not an inevitable part of aging, and the aging process by itself does not cause someone to fall. For active, successful aging it is essential older adults reduce their risk factors for falling and thereby can extend quality and quantity of life.
Your health/fitness professional play an important role in identifying modifiable risk factors for falling. After conducting a fall risk screen we may refer you to your health care provider and/or to refer to specialist for uncorrected vision problems such as optometrist or ophthalmologist, your pharmacists for a side effect of medication that increase fall risk review. To restore, maintain balance and mobility and maximize your wellness potential incorporating community based balance and mobility programs, in-home privately tailored falls prevention, balance and mobility programs, physical therapists and occupational therapists for effective intervention.
Start your falls prevention action plan
Begin to complete the Stay Independent Questionnaire in the comfort of you home. Be truthful, realistic and honest completing the questionnaire, your life or quality of life may depend on it.
Experiencing a stumble, trip, near fall, slight unsteadiness or unusual dizziness These disturbances should be taken serious because this often leads to another fall with or without injury. The best time to begin a balance and mobility specific exercise program is when you are beginning to experience balance problems. Expert help is available. Hire a Certified Balance and Mobility Specialist who is trained to conduct a fall risk screen and perform the appropriate assessment to identify what causes you to lose balance. He/she can provide you or your personal trainer with information appropriate for exercise program development and training aimed to improve balance, stability, strength, and mobility. We screen, assess, and intervene to reduce fall risk by providing our older clients with individually tailored interventions.
A fall without injury
Sliding of the bed or chair, falling without injury are a serious sign that you need to take action. Immediate intervention is required if you want to remain independent and want to reduce and/or prevent recurrent falls. If you currently participate in regular exercise program it is time to determine if this exercise program contains sufficient challenge to keep you on your feet while aging. Just because a class is fun does not make it beneficial for balance and mobility. A Certified Balance and Mobility Specialist can perform assessments to determine possible balance impairments and design an exercise program accordingly. Once you have regained balance skills, the key is to retain these skills with an exercise program that systematically rotates exercises of the various multi-sensory and multi-dimensional balance challenges so that you maintain your skills and can slow down age-related declines in balance and functional health.
Multiple falls without injury or a fall(s) with injury
Repeated falls and experiencing an injury with a fall, a slight bruise, doctor visit or emergency room. If you happen to survive this fall, you have no time to waste. Immediate intervention is needed. The next fall may be deadly or cost you your independence. Consult your healthcare provider to conduct Multifactorial Fall Risk Assessment to determine if there are medical reasons why you have been falling and request a referral for Physical Therapy to help you restore function to a level where you are no longer at high fall risk. Then you can transition to a Balance and Mobility Specialist/Personal Trainer to retain these skills and progress you to a higher level of functional fitness or to a level where you can retain functional independence. Your balance and mobility specialist/trainer systematically rotates exercises of the various multi-sensory and multi-dimensional balance challenges so that you can maintain your skills and to slow down age-related declines in balance and functional health.
Fitness & Function screens, assesses, and intervenes to reduce fall risk by giving our older adults tailored interventions from the comfort of their home.
The cost for waiting too long to get help is not just financially expensive, it leads to a reduced quality of life, possibly having to give up independence or premature death.
From 1999 to 2016, age-adjusted death rates from unintentional falls among adults aged ≥ 65 years increased 110%. Among men aged ≥ 65 years, the age-adjusted death rate increased 89% in 2016. For women aged ≥ 65 years, the rate increased 122% in 2016.
live your life to the fullest with full function for as long as possible.
Falls prevention strategies throughout the aging process
By the time you have experienced a fall with or without injury, and lucky enough to survive the fall, quality of life has probably diminished already. Fall prevention intervention programs need periodically be re-evaluated. I recommend a fall risk screen every three months unless medical status changes, and reassessment of balance and mobility every 6 months. With fall risk increasing as we age, a continuum of appropriate exercises and strategies needs to be in place to identify the fall risk factors and prevent falls throughout the aging process.
By Jacqueline Sinke; Certified FallProof Balance and Mobility Specialist, Stepping On Certified, ACSM EP-C, ACSM CET, ACE CMES, ACE HC, ACE CPT, Delay The Disease Parkinson's Exercise Certified.