* More than one-third of adults over the age of 65 fall each year in the U.S.
* Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for people 65 and older.
* Every 8 minutes in N.J. a person over the age of 60 is seen in the Emergency room for a fall-related injury.
Falls are a serious public health concern. Falling, and the fear of falling, can lead to depression, anxiety and hopelessness, loss of mobility and independence. In older people, dizziness and unsteadiness/imbalance are common complaints and are the leading cause of disability in the elderly.
Good balance requires reliable sensory input from the vision system, the vestibular system (the balance system of the inner ear), and the proprioceptors (sensors of position and movement in the feet and legs). Older individuals are prone to a variety of conditions that affect these systems. Problems affecting the vision include cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. Peripheral neuropathy, which affects sensation and position sense, will affect the feet and legs. Finally, vestibular system disorders and degeneration are common with aging. Neurological conditions, such as strokes and Parkinson Disease, can also lead to falls. The good news is that falls are preventable! Studies show that a combination of interventions can significantly reduce falls in the older adult population. Experts recommend having medications reviewed periodically. Taking 4 or more medications increases the risk of falling. Annual eye check-ups are important. And the home environment should be safe and free of hazards. A regimen of physical activity with balance, strength training, and flexibility is also important. Consulting with a Physical Therapist who specializes in vestibular and balance rehabilitation is the first step to having a comprehensive balance and fall risk assessment performed. A therapist can guide you to a safe return to physical activity, including a walking program. Your first visit would include a comprehensive evaluation of balance, gait, vision, strength, mobility and analyzing the positions which provoke dizziness and vertigo. The therapist designs an individualized treatment program, which may include balance and visual retraining, exercises to reduce sensitivity to movement or canalith
repositioning for BPPV. If you have balance issues, dizziness, vertigo, or a fear of falling or have fallen, it is important to get your confidence back. We can help you get your life back in balance and return you to the quality of life you love. Don’t wait for the fall to make the call.
The Dizziness and Balance Center recognizes this problem and treats patients who have balance and dizziness problems which could result in a fall. Our goal is to promote an independent lifestyle and address areas that may put an individual at risk for a fall. For individuals who have experienced a fall, treatment focuses on the possible reason for the fall and look at ways to prevent a future fall.
If you have a history of falls, or you have not fallen but have a fear of falling, you could benefit from a Physical Therapy evaluation at
“The Dizziness and Balance Center”
Additional Safety Tips...
Most falls occur at home. Stay safe and independent in your home by following these simple suggestions.
Keep Your Path Clear
Move books, boxes, shoes and clutter out of your path and off stairs. Move extension, appliance and telephone cords that you can trip over. Watch where your pets are sleeping or lying down. Rearrange furniture to allow a clear path. If the furniture is heavy, ask for help
Don't Give Your Feet a Reason to Trip
Put away those throw and scatter rugs! Apply double-sided tape to the back of carpet to keep it from moving. Take your time when getting to the phone or to answer the door. Rushing may cause you to trip and fall. When walking up and down stairs take your time and use the handrail.
Brighten Up Your Apartment or House
Turn the lights on as you move through the house and up and down the stairs. Use nightlights to brighten bedrooms, halls and bathrooms. Have a lamp or flashlight and your glasses within easy reach of your bed. Keep a small flashlight on your key chain. When spending the night away from home, take along a flashlight so when you wake up in an unfamiliar room you can find your way to the bathroom.
Keep your Bathroom Fall Free
Use a non-slip mat in the tub or shower. Use a bath bench or shower stool. Install a grab bar next to the toilet and in the bathtub or shower. A towel rack doesn’t work – it can pull out of the wall.
Here are some tips on how to improve your safety at home
and help to decrease the risk of a fall…
Reduce clutter on floors and in walkways
Use night-lights throughout house to illuminate surroundings
Remove throw rugs from areas with vinyl, tile, or wooden flooring
Install safety rails on the tub and toilet
Use non-skid abrasive strips in bathtubs/showers
Install secure handrails in stairways
Watch out for small pets, which tend to be under your feet
Elevate seat height with a firm cushion to help you raise to a standing position
Have emergency phone numbers written on all phones and be sure to have a phone within reach of your bed and the floor
Do not take unnecessary risks such as climbing ladders or step stools.
Wear a supportive, non skid shoe/sneaker whenever possible to better support your feet