Falls remain the leading cause of injury and injury death for older Nebraskans. However, many falls are preventable. Falling is not an inevitable result of aging.What Can Happen After a Fall?
Many falls do not cause injuries. But one out of five falls does cause a serious injury such as a broken bone or a head injury. These injuries can make it hard for a person to get around, do everyday activities, or live on their own.
- Falls can cause broken bones, like wrist, arm, ankle, and hip fractures.
- Falls can cause head injuries. These can be very serious, especially if the person is taking certain medicines (like blood thinners). An older person who falls and hits their head should see their doctor right away to make sure they don’t have a brain injury.
- Many people who fall, even if they’re not injured, become afraid of falling. This fear may cause a person to cut down on their everyday activities. When a person is less active, they become weaker and this increases their chances of falling.11
What Conditions Make You More Likely to Fall?
Research has identified many conditions that contribute to falling. These are called risk factors. Many risk factors can be changed or modified to help prevent falls. They include:
- Lower body weakness
- Vitamin D deficiency (that is, not enough vitamin D in your system)
- Difficulties with walking and balance
- Use of medicines, such as tranquilizers, sedatives, or antidepressants. Even some over-the-counter medicines can affect balance and how steady you are on your feet.
- Vision problems
- Foot pain or poor footwear
- Home hazards or dangers such as
- broken or uneven steps,
- throw rugs or clutter that can be tripped over, and
- no handrails along stairs or in the bathroom.
Most falls are caused by a combination of risk factors. The more risk factors a person has, the greater their chances of falling.
Healthcare providers can help cut down a person’s risk by reducing the fall risk factors listed above.
- Center For Healthy Aging: National Council on Aging
- Fall Prevention Center of Excellence
- National Institute on Aging
- National Resource Center on Supportive Housing and Home Modification
- American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons
- American Occupational Therapy Association
- National Council for Aging Care
- Stepping On-A Falls Prevention Program
- CDC: Older Adult Falls Prevention
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services
What is Tai Chi?
In this low-impact, slow-motion exercise, you go without pausing through a series of motions named for animal actions — for example, "white crane spreads its wings" — or martial arts moves, such as "box both ears." As you move, you breathe deeply and naturally, focusing your attention — as in some kinds of meditation — on your bodily sensations. Tai chi differs from other types of exercise in several respects. The movements are usually circular and never forced, the muscles are relaxed rather than tensed, the joints are not fully extended or bent, and connective tissues are not stretched. Tai chi can be easily adapted for anyone, from the most fit to people confined to wheelchairs or recovering from surgery.
Source: Harvard Medical School