Falls are the leading cause of injuries for people 65 and older. Once a person experiences a fall, it can limit mobility and independence, which can decrease the ability to perform everyday tasks.
With falls being the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in older adults, it’s important to not only understand the common reasons for falls, but also to know the typical injuries resulting from falls and how rehabilitation services can help.
Common causes of falls may include:
- A decline in physical fitness
- Impaired vision
- Chronic diseases
- Surgical procedures
- Environmental hazards – A majority of falls in the elderly population occur in or around the home and are attributed to poor lighting, clutter, loose carpets, slick floors and lack of safety equipment.
Injuries such as joint sprains, dislocations of the shoulder and hip, and fractured bones are typical injuries caused by falls. Back, spinal cord, and head injuries can also be caused by falls.
Even if a fall doesn’t result in an injury, it can still cause fear in an individual and hinder the individual’s independence can be beneficial for someone who has experienced a fall. Rehabilitation services can help a person regain strength, alleviate pain, and recover other abilities that are essential to overall well-being and independence. In addition, physical therapy plays a key role in helping to prevent future falls by improving movement, balance, and agility. At Weslaco Rehabilitation Hospital, LiteGait® technology helps patients safely improve balance, gait and functional independence without the risk of falling.
To help prevent falls at home, consider the following home modification tips:
- Keep rooms free from clutter
- Install handrails, raised toilet seats, grab bars and shower mats
- Light up dark areas of the home
- Remove or tape down any loose carpets or electrical wires
- Ensure telephones can be easily reached from the floor
- Replace chairs that are too low to the ground or difficult to get out of
- Install night lights throughout the home, especially in bathrooms and stairwells
In addition to home modifications, a change in wardrobe also can help in preventing falls. Wear sensible, non-slip footwear and avoid wearing loose clothing. Make sure to also talk with your family and care providers about your falling risks.
Rashmi Chandran is the Director of Therapy at Weslaco Regional Rehabilitation Hospital. The hospital provides specialized rehabilitative care to patients recovering from disabilities caused by injuries, illnesses, or chronic medical conditions. For more information, visit WRRH.ernesthealth.com, call 956-969-2222 or visit the hospital at 906 S. James St., Weslaco, Texas.