According to the APTA website, one-third of people over the age of 65 and up to half of people over the age of 80 will end up falling this year. Falls can diminish your ability to lead an active and independent lifestyle. Decreased balance and increased risk of falling are two things that inevitably come with aging. Fortunately, there is something you can do about it.
Balance has contributions from three sources; the inner ear, the feeling on the bottom of the feet, and your vision. If anyone of these is affected it can really decrease your balance. For example, if you suffer from macular degeneration that affects your vision or diabetic neuropathy that affects your ability to feel the bottom of your feet, then you may be at greater risk of falling. Other contributing factors include age, lower extremity weakness, using a cane or other walking device, medical conditions like stroke or Parkinson’s disease or a history of previous falls. If you have any of these risk factors and are concerned about falling, then physical therapy can help.
Physical therapists are highly trained professionals that can conduct balance assessments to determine if you are at an increased fall risk. If the screening shows that you are at risk, we can design a program tailored to your specific needs to help decrease your risk of falling. Strength, gait, range of motion and balance are all things that may be included in your plan of care to improve balance.
Staying active is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of falling. Yoga, gardening, Tai Chi or a regular walking program are all things that have been shown to increase a person’s confidence levels, improve body awareness and improve balance. Falling or fear of falling should not simply be accepted as a normal aspect of aging. A lot can be done to improve balance and keep you functioning at your highest possible level and physical therapy can help you get there.