by Angie Westendorf
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every 11 seconds an older adult is seen in the emergency department (ED) for a fall-related injury impacting 2.8 million older Americans every year. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans according to a report from the National Council on Aging causing serious injury such as head injury or broken bones, including more than 300,000 hospitalizations for hip fractures alone.
One way to reduce your risk of falling is to begin a good exercise and balance program with a local physical therapist to build strength, balance and flexibility. Another way is to review all your medications with your health care provider to make sure side effects aren’t increasing your risk of falling. Have vision and hearing checked annually, and allow an occupational or physical therapist to assess your home to enhance safety. They can help you identify and remove tripping hazards such as rugs, install grab bars, make stairs safe, and increase lighting.
Physical therapists can also conduct a screening to check your balance, and develop a customized exercise program designed to strengthen specific areas of weakness. Participation in a physical therapy program can provide ongoing exercise with a focus on leg strength and balance. You will need a referral from your health care provider for physical or occupational therapy services.
Mercy Rehabilitation can provide more information by calling 319-283-6100.