One of the chief fears of senior adults (besides losing their bets on bingo) is falling. Two and a half million American seniors are treated in emergency care each year due to a fall. A number of major injuries occur as a result of a fall, including bone fractures, loss of blood circulation (due to limb entrapment), and severe brain injury. The CDC reports that 250,000 seniors per year are hospitalized for hip fractures alone.
But why are all these seniors falling (we know they’re not all tipsy)?
A number of risk factors that become present with age can lead to falls. These factors are a combination of lower body weakness, vitamin D deficiency, walking and balance difficulties, the use of certain medicines, vision problems, improper footwear or foot pain, and/or home hazards.
So is there any way to prevent these risk factors and the subsequent falls?
Actually, a number of fall prevention programs across the US say yes.
One such program is Matter of Balance, which was developed at Boston University. This program works to make its students aware of the risk factors of falls, providing ideas for preventative methods such as talking to a doctor about physical or medicinal issues and making one’s home safer for getting around. The instructors also teach skills for getting up and out of bed, chairs, and up and down off of the floor.
The two most effective aspects of Matter of Balance is the encouragement of physical activity and the introduction of the mindset that falls are controllable. Each session of the program has a moderately full body strengthening portion so that seniors can control their posture, mobility, and walking speed. Ultimately, all aspects of the program instill the conviction in the seniors that they DO have the ability to prevent falls, fall as safely as possible, and get back up on their own.
This program has been shown to not only improve seniors while they’re taking part in the eight-week program, but participants will continue to improve even after their participation is over.
Conclusively, if you love your grandma and grandpa, get them into this program. And if you are a senior, you will not regret spending a few hours for two months learning how to possibly save your own life.