Don’t Wait Until You’ve Already Fallen Before You Think About Balance
Accidental falls are the No. 1 cause of injury—including fatal injuries—for American senior citizens. If you’re lucky, you might get away with just a bruise. But not everyone is so fortunate.
The Costs Are High
In fact, falls are responsible for about 3 million emergency room visits, 800,000 hospital admissions, and nearly 30,000 deaths in the United States each year.
One out of every five falls results in a serious injury—broken hips, head injuries, etc. According to the CDC, the annual cost of all these injuries and accidents exceeds $30 billion.
And even though your injuries may heal, the effects on day to day life can be permanent:
- Fear of falling causes many seniors to reduce their activity level
- Balance, strength, and flexibility decline during long hospital stays and recovery periods and may not fully recover without substantial rehabilitation.
In either scenario, a previous fall (or fear of a future one) can lead to reduced activity, loss of mobility, loss of independence, social isolation, and—ironically—increased risk of future falls.
The Risk Is Greater Than You Might Think
Despite the incredibly high cost of falling, far too many people ignore the risk until they’ve already fallen—sometimes several times!
And falling really is an epidemic.
Did you know that fully one quarter of Americans aged 65 and up will experience at least one fall this year? One out of four!
And of course, that rate isn’t the same at every age over 65. In fact, more than halfof adults over age 80 will fall this year.
When you realize just how many seniors are falling, and how often those falls result in serious and life-altering injuries, you might just realize why you shouldn’t wait until you or someone you love has already fallen to do something about it.
Falling Is Not an Inevitable Part of Growing Older
True, there are a lot of physical changes that happen which can affect your balance and stability. Declining eyesight and hearing loss may reduce your ability to identify hazards. Strength, flexibility, and endurance all eventually decline to some degree.
But that doesn’t mean that losing your balance and falling is an inevitable part of the aging process. Balance is a skill that can be practiced and improved. Tools and aids like better shoes and braces can help you maintain your footing. You can keep a clean home with as few tripping hazards as possible.
If you take care of your body and take care of your environment, you absolutely can reduce your overall fall risk significantly. And that means you can stay in better health, maintain your independence, and enjoy a higher quality of life for years to come.
How We Help Seniors Keep Their Balance at Wilks Advanced Foot Care
Feet are, of course, the foundation you rely on for sturdy standing, walking, and really all kinds of activities. And at Wilks Advanced Foot Care, it’s our mission to keep your feet and ankles in top shape so that you can stay active and independent!
For seniors struggling with balance, we are proud to offer the Moore Balance Brace. This is a customized ankle-foot orthosis made from firm-yet-lightweight and flexible polypropylene. You can wear it easily under your shoes and clothes, and during all kinds of activities.
Far more than a simple off-the-shelf brace, the Moore Balance Brace offers custom ankle stabilization, plus a built-in custom orthotic with plenty of arch support, shock absorption, and midfoot stability. It’s easy to get on and off thanks to the open dorsal design and easy-to-pull Velcro straps (or laces, if you prefer).
The Moore Balance Brace is perfect for anyone with either a history of falls or a high fall-risk condition such as neuropathy, arthritis, vestibular disorder, foot drop, and more.
Of course, aside from fitting you for a brace, we’re also happy to help you maintain your stability by advising you on balance and strengthening exercises, and treating any existing foot problems you may have.
Other Ways to Reduce Your Fall Risk
If you’re concerned about your stability, we strongly recommend you get in touch with your primary care physician. He or she may also refer you to an occupational therapist, a professional who can instruct you on exercises and provide a home safety assessment.
You should also check in with your eye doctor, whether or not you currently wear glasses or contacts. Because visual acuity and eye diseases often progress slowly, you may not always realize just how far your eyes have deteriorated.
Other than that, some simple steps you can take at home include:
- Cleaning up clutter and removing low-lying furniture and other obstacles both inside and outside your home.
- Installing guardrails and handrails in bathrooms and along staircases.
- Putting automatic light-sensing night lights in all rooms of your home.
- Securing any rugs or adding non-slip treads or mats to stairs, bathroom, kitchen, and other slippery locations.
- Storing everyday items (clothing, food, dishes, toiletries, etc.) in a place where you don’t have to stretch or bend to reach them.
- Stretch and exercise every day, with a focus on exercises that improve balance.
- Always wear sensible, comfortable, non-slip shoes—even indoors.
By taking action now—before your balance starts to get really wobbly—you give yourself the best chance to stay on your feet for years to come!
If foot pain or balance issues are currently causing you stress or discomfort, give us a call today. You can reach our Roseburg office at (541) 673-0742.