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Reduce Your Risk of Falling as You Age

Reduce Your Risk for Falling as You Age

It’s no surprise that falling becomes more common as you age. In fact, one in every four elder adults suffers injuries from falls each year. However, according to physical therapist Sandy Tremblay from Lehigh Valley Health Network, you have the power to reduce your risk for falls. “Doing regular physical activities that include endurance, muscle strength and balance activities reduces the risk for fall-related injuries,” she says.

How physical therapy can help

One way to reduce your risk for falling is to see a physical therapist. Physical therapists are movement experts who improve quality of life through hands-on care, patient education and prescribed movement.

  • A physical therapist can help you:
  • Assess your risk for falling
  • Design an individualized plan for your fall-prevention needs
  • Make your home safe
  • Learn about medical risk factors associated with falls
  • By providing appropriate exercise and balance training
  • Work with other health care professionals to address any underlying medical conditions that could increase your fall risk

Five tips to reduce your risk for falls

Falls can be prevented. Tremblay outlines five tips she often tells her patients when it comes to minimizing their risk for falling.

  • Maintain mobility and improve strength – Stay active by doing physical activities you enjoy. Take part in tai chi, yoga or walking. Doing so will help you keep your strength, flexibility, coordination and balance. Check with your doctor or physical therapist to see what types of activities are safe.
  • Get a fall screening – Ask your doctor or physical therapist about fall screenings. A trained health care provider can assess your fall risk and work with you to find ways to decrease your risk.
  • Read your medication labels – If you take more than four medicines (prescribed or over the counter), your risk for falling is higher. Many drugs can cause dizziness, loss of balance, blurry vision and more. If you have any of these symptoms, review your medications with your pharmacist. Then, talk to your doctor about whether a change is in order.
  • Eliminate hazards around your home – Check your home for anything that could cause you to trip. Things such as rugs, clutter, poor lighting, and wobbly furniture or handrails could be a hazard. If you cannot fix or remove the items by yourself, ask a friend or family member to help.
  • Improve home safety – Add a secure grab bar in the tub or shower and next to the toilet. A bar will provide support when the floor or your feet are slippery. Check with your doctor or physical therapist about any programs that offer home safety assessments. Your Area Agency on Aging may be another source of help or support.
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