A Fall Risk Screening and Prevention Program is beneficial for older adults, as falls are one of the greatest causes of serious health problems. Modifying the factors that lead to falls will increase mobility and confidence, both of which are critical to maintaining a more independent lifestyle. Both the incidence of falls and the severity of fall-related complications rise steadily after the age of 60. In the United States, 1 in 3 people age 65 and older fall each year. After the age of 75, the rates are even higher.
A structured program consisting of 8 visits over a 4 to 6 week period has been found to be beneficial. The patient is evaluated for specific risk factors known to contribute to falling and decreased mobility. Three areas proven important in assessing your risk of falling will be addressed in this program.
- Lower body strength: Strength is a critical factor for a rapid response to a balance disturbance. Testing will identify weakness and, if necessary, exercise will significantly improve lower body strength.
- Balance: Normal balance is controlled by a complex combination of visual, muscular and neurologic systems. Together, these factors keep us from falling when we encounter an unexpected disturbance. Testing and appropriate exercise will improve an individual's ability to remain upright under challenging conditions.
- Aerobic endurance: Older adults typically display a slower walking speed. Steps are also shorter and vary in length. These are all factors related to falls. Independence is directly related to walking speed. Testing and, if necessary, exercise helps you learn how to walk more safely and confidently.
Frequently asked questions about falls
Q: What are the major causes of falls?
A: The most common cause of falls include weak muscles, unstable balance, dizziness, vision problems, side effects from medications and environmental hazards.
Q: How serious are falls?
A: Falls can result in hip fractures, head injuries and even death. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths among people 65 years and older. More than 40 percent of people hospitalized from a hip fracture do not return home and are not capable of living independently.
Q: How can I reduce my risk of falling?
A: Studies show that balance training, ability of walking, strength, and flexibility training not only improve mobility, but also help reduce the risk of falling.