Falls aren’t just painful; they’re scary, too. Then, before we know it, our shaken confidence and fear of falling starts to change our lifestyle. Less gardening, less shopping, less movement.
Before we know it, that new “lifestyle of less” snowballs into decline.
The reduced amount of activity and mobility leads to muscle weakness and more unsteadiness, increasing the fear as we feel less safe in our own bodies and abilities, which in turn triggers a constantly shrinking amount activity…. We’re afraid another fall will leave us dependent on others.
Down the path we go, until a sedentary life becomes a bedridden one. Our independence is gone.
Falls are the leading cause of injury for those over age 65, both fatal and nonfatal, and the number one cause of hospitalization. So how can we stop the momentum of that fear and the influence it has, and go back to life as usual before the fall? Recognizing the situation is the first step.
We can’t stop what we don’t see.
A myth debunked: falls are not a normal part of aging.
They are entirely preventable through muscle and balance exercises, managing medications that make us dizzy, wearing glasses if needed to maintain good vision, and keeping our environment clear of trip hazards. Half of all falls happen in the home.
Once it’s recognized, talking through options and next steps can start us down a better path. An emergency response device to feel safer, physical therapy to recover from injury, walks and exercises to regain strength, small trips to regain confidence in ourselves… Collectively, these give us the freedom and confidence to move on with our life.
That fearful voice is quieted by our improving physical abilities.
How we recover from a fall depends on the amount of injury that happens with the fall. A bruised backside is very different from a broken hip or injury that requires a hospital stay. Any significant injury should include a recovery plan and support from appropriate medical professionals. However, once we’re on the mend, we decide how much activity we can manage and the speed of our own recovery.
To bounce back, it’s important to keep moving. We suggest a daily walk, since the distance can be easily changed based on what seems manageable at the time, but here are a few additional ideas to inspire you!
- Chair Yoga: Here are some poses to get you started
- Tai Chi: many community centers provide Tai Chi classes and they’re fabulous for balance.
- Stability Exercises: Silver Sneakers and community centers offer classes to improve balance and reflexes
- Strength Training: Building strength helps build balance. Here are some tips on working with light weights.
Article originally posted by Sun Health Communities.