Learning To Prevent Falls
Exercise plays a major role in preventing falls. When we see older adults shuffling instead of walking, they are actually compensating for lack of balance and poor posture. These seniors take shorter strides, have a wider gait and tend to look at the floor to try to avoid tripping.
Improving posture and balance helps strengthen weak muscle groups in the back, core, hips and legs. This improves mobility, which limits the fall risks. Working on posture, such as sitting up straight in a chair and holding abs in can strengthen key muscles groups helping to create a more normal walking gait. Improving static balance, which is the ability to control postural sway while standing, is key to preventing falls.
Some of the exercises to stimulate better brain and muscle control are marching in place, heel walks, working on ankle flexibility and quick steps with sudden stops to help increase reaction times. Along with wrist and ankle weights to help build muscle, many seniors are drawn to aquatic classes because of arthritis or lack of flexibility. However, it is important for seniors to perform exercises on land to increase bone density, help improve balance and simulate the functional movements we perform each day during our daily tasks.
Exercising is not only good for the body it stimulates the mind, improves hand and eye coordination and is an excellent social outlet. Before starting any exercise program, meet with your doctor and discuss your goals.
QUICK FACTS ABOUT FALLS
- Every year, one in three older adults falls. The results of a single fall can be fairly minor, such as a sprain or strain, to severe, such a hip fractures and head trauma. The good news is that falls are largely preventable.
- Unintentional falls affect one in three adults 65 years of age and older, at least once a year.
- More than half of all accidental injury deaths to the 65-plus age group were due to accidental falls (CDC, 2009).
- 85% of accidental deaths by falls occurred among those aged 65 and older.
- Falls are also the most common cause of nonfatal injuries (such as fractures of the hip, spine, forearm, and leg) and hospital admissions for trauma
- According to the CDC, in 2010, 2.3 million nonfatal fall injuries among older adults were treated in emergency departments and more than 662,000 of these patients were hospitalized.