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ARE YOU AT RISK FOR FALLS?
By Biagio Mazza
One of every three Americans over the age of 65 fall each year...
...and there's a high percentage of those that it becomes a fall that has an injury to it, and unfortunately, the series of events that occur with falls can be catastrophic. It's not the case for every single fall, obviously, but it still is a huge issue in the United States.
Falls can be prevented by looking at what your risk for falls might be. So what risk factors might be something that you could point to to say, "Hey, I'm potentially a fall risk."
Well one, believe it or not, is just a fear of falling. If you are scared or you're thinking about falling, there usually is something intuitively that you've picked up on that makes sense with that and is a sign that you may be a fall risk.
A second factor is taking any four medications at a time. So it doesn't matter what combination, if you take four or more medications that increases your risk of falls.
The third is a history of falls. So if you've fallen in the past, there is a much higher likelihood that you will fall again. So if you have a fall history, your risk for falling again is fairly high.
And then the final risk factor that we want to mention is difficulty with vision or inner ear issues. So if you have difficulty with vision, if you have difficulty with your vestibular system, kind of the control of where you are in space, those are both risk factors.
There are a number of additional risk factors including diabetes, peripheral neuropathy, any number of things, but those are the big ones. So if you or a loved one fall into those categories make sure you keep watching, and kind of keep an eye out for some self-testing tips and home exercises to help improve your balance.
Additionaly, we encourage you to consider working with your physical therapist for a full fall risk assessment and treatment/exercise plan specific to you.