At Total Foot and Ankle, we work with patients of all ages, from young children taking their first steps to older adults who have tread many miles. When it comes to our older patients, one of our most important goals is to help them maintain their independence and mobility for as long as possible – and a good fall prevention plan is a great way to start.
You see, as we age, our bodies have to adapt to many changes. And these changes often push us toward increasingly instable feet. Our muscles become weaker. Our feet become painful and sore. Our eyesight and hearing may slowly become impaired. Certain medications and conditions can even interfere with balance, too.
Because of this, more than 14 million people over the age of 65 will experience a fall this year, 2.5 million Americans will need to be treated in emergency departments, 700,000 will require hospitalization, and more than 20,000 will die as a result of a fall.
These numbers are alarming – and the truth is, they continue to grow year after year, making falls the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries in seniors.
Even for those who are able to recover from fall injuries, chances are they won’t be able to do so fully. Things like loss of strength and fitness during recovery periods can often happen due to reduced activity levels, which in turn can accelerate a permanent decline in health, mobility, and independence.
But there is good news:
With a little bit of luck and a few preventative steps, you can keep being active while minimizing your risk of falling now and in the future!
Some Fall Prevention Tips
Before we get down to business, we would like to emphasize the importance of seeking professional treatment if you have already fallen before, almost fallen, or are concerned about your balance. A big part of fall prevention is, well … preventing, and you should never wait for an accident to happen before protecting yourself.
(An ounce of prevention is worth much more than a pound of cure.)
When you come to our office, we will perform a risk assessment evaluation. Based on your current health status and background, we will put together a fall prevention strategy that is tailored to your specific goals and needs. And if we determine you can benefit from seeing other health specialists, we will be happy to refer you to them as well.
Overall, however, most fall prevention strategies will encompass two important elements:
Caring for your health
The weaker and more unstable your body becomes, the higher your risk of falling will be. Caring for your health, and addressing any medical conditions that may contribute to your lack of balance now or in the future, is a vital part of preventing falls.
To that note, here’s some measures you should take to protect yourself:
- Immediately treat any foot and ankle conditions that may be contributing to your balance difficulties, like bunions, hammertoes, flat feet, or general foot pain.
- Treat any other medical conditions that may increase your risk of falling in the future, like hearing loss or visual impairment.
- Regularly wear a balance brace to provide extra stability and help prevent falls. (No worries – these versatile medical devices are built to fit discreetly and comfortably under clothing and footwear.)
- Stay active and perform routine ankle strengthening and balance exercises.
- Maintain a healthy dietary plan and drink plenty of fluids.
Adjusting your home environment
Aside from keeping your body healthy and stable, it’s also important to make some adjustments to your home environment in order to create a hazard-free space and minimize your fall risk at home. This includes:
- Keeping your living space brightly lit, and using night lights in areas that are darker, like hallways.
- Getting rid of clutter and removing any tripping hazards, like untucked rugs and kids’ toys.
- Installing handrails, grab bars, and non-skid mats in bathrooms, kitchens, and any other areas that might be slippery and/or require transitions from sitting to standing.
- Keeping everyday items, like clothes and cooking supplies, within easy reach
Don’t Wait to Get the Help You Need
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is waiting to get the help you need. In fact, many people don’t start preventing falls until it’s too late. And while your first tumble may simply mean a bruised arm – and ego – it may also be the one that keeps you off your feet for the rest of your life (or worse).
So don’t make the same mistake. Give our team a call to schedule an appointment today – we have two convenient locations ready to serve you:
- Oklahoma City: (405) 947-8041
- Enid: (580) 237-3338
If you prefer to contact us online, simply fill out our request form and a member of our staff will get in touch shortly.