Balance Is the Key to Preventing Falls

The Centers for Disease Control report that one in three people over the age of 65 will fall every year. Many of us have known someone who has fallen, or are worried about a loved one at risk for falls. Half of all injuries reported at Christiana Care are related to falls. As the injury prevention coordinator for the Trauma Department, I am on a mission to reduce the number of falls that happen to our older population. I teach seniors in the community and at the bedside that most falls are preventable.

One issue with falls in the elderly is when a person develops a fear of falling after they experience a fall. This will often cause a person to limit their activity in order to avoid another fall. Limiting activity will only increase the chances of falling again due to the effects of immobility on the body. When people do not move, their bodies will weaker and their balance can worsen.

It’s important to check with your health care provider if you’ve experienced a fall, to determine if any follow-up testing or assessments are needed. I also suggest that people think about their fall and try to determine if that specific fall could have been avoided. Do you need to move some furniture, slow down a bit, or add a railing to a set of steps?

Some of the patients I speak to in the hospital have temporary activity restrictions based on their injuries. Despite the restrictions, it is extremely important to keep moving in whatever manner they are permitted and stay active. I always say “keep on keepin’ on.” After a fall: Ask your doctor if you need follow-up care, review the fall and make changes if possible, and stay active within the physical restriction placed by your doctor.