I recently had a fall at home and now I am afraid it will happen again.
I want you to know you are not alone. Falls become much more common as we age. In fact, one in four Americans over the age of 65 will fall each year. Every 11 seconds an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall. These numbers are staggering so its normal to be worried.
However, it is important that your worry doesn’t lead to being less active. Preventing yourself from going out or getting exercise and being active will only increase your risk of a fall. Additionally, it can reduce your quality of life and increase your social isolation. Instead, focus on making small changes to reduce your risk of falling. These can include reducing trip hazards in your home and increasing your physical activity. My hope is that this will empower you to be strong and active and remain confident in yourself.
First you should always report your fall to your doctor. Your doctor may want to check and see if there could be a medical reason for your imbalance. Perhaps there is a medication change, vision change or other health condition that can be monitored. Sometimes injuries cannot be seen, and your doctor may suggest you come in for a checkup.
Your doctor may also suggest some physical therapy either in the home or in a clinic. Take advantage if this is offered and ask the physical therapist to provide exercises that you can continue on your own to keep yourself strong.
Do a walkthrough of your home and look for fall risks. Check for any clutter on the floor that could be a tripping hazard. Make sure you have clear pathways with adequate lighting. Nightlights at night are important to make sure you can see if you get up in the middle of the night. Install grab bars, if needed, in the bathrooms and use non-slip mats in the tub.
Often, we take for granted the set-up of our home. As we age though, our needs change. It’s normal for there to be vision changes and we may have more trouble catching ourselves from a fall. Try and examine your home from a fall prevention perspective.
There are several classes in Ventura County that are specifically designed to reduce your fall risk. These are evidenced based classes and you can learn more about them at www.vcaaa.org/our-services/fall-prevention or by calling the Area Agency on Aging at 805-477-7343.
A fall can cause us to doubt our own self and can cause us to develop new fears. The only way these fears help us is if we do something about them. I hope you use this fall as a warning sign to motivate you to examine your home safety and increase your physical fitness. There’s a lot you can do to ensure your safety and improve your health.
Martha Shapiro can reached at Senior Concerns at 805-497-0189 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, Jan. 23, 3 p.m. – 4 p.m.: Fall Prevention and Balance Screening with Dr. Perez. Drop in to the Simi Valley Library at 2969 Tapo Canyon, Simi Valley and learn some tips on preventing falls. You will get a free balance screening done by Dr. Perez. Please register by calling 818-798-8384.
Wednesday, Feb. 5, 1:00 pm: “The Story of St. Valentine’s Day” Presentation by the Thousand Oaks Council on Aging. Located in the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza Boardroom. Robert Dempster, a member of the Council of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, will present the story of St. Valentine’s Day and how it all began. This meeting will be broadcast live on TOTV and on the City’s website at www.toaks.org. For more information or to watch archived videos, please visit www.toaks.org/seniors.