Falls and balance.

San Luis Obispo is a wonderful area for people to retire to in their later years. Unfortunately, with aging also comes a higher risk for fall related injuries due to reduced reaction speed, reduced visual acuity and reduced muscle strength.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, falls are the number one cause of injury, hospital visits and death from an injury among people age 65 and older and each year 1 out of 3 older adults will experience a fall. In fact, fall account for more than 8.7 million emergency visits each year in the USA. Between 20 and 30 percent of those who fall end up with a moderate to severe injury, reducing mobility and independence. The statistics show that 20 percent of the older people (65 and older) who break a hip from falling will die within a year of the injury.

Falls are not inevitable and there are actions which can be taken to reduce falls.

Here are some things which can be done to reduce the risk of falls:

Keep yourself strong and fit: Chances of falling can be reduced by improving your strength and balance. Research has shown that balance and strengthening exercises are most effective for reducing the risk of falls. Not only do exercise improve strength and balance but it also improves cognitive function, reaction times and effectiveness of balance strategies. 

Fall proof your home: This involves removing trip hazards like extension cords, throw rugs and any other items which you could trip over. Having grab rails in the bathroom and a night light on at night if you need to get out of bed can also be extremely helpful. Be careful of leaves or water on all walkways around your home and use a cane or walker if you need one.

Medication: Have your doctor or pharmacist review all the medications you take both prescription and over-the-counter. Some medications or combination of medicines can make you drowsy or light-headed, which can potentially lead to a fall.

Vision: Poor vision is a common cause of tripping. our eyes provide us with orientation in space so it is important to have you vision checked and be sure you have the correct prescription lenses if needed. Be aware that bi-focal lenses can affect how you see the ground as the lower portion of the lens is designed for reading at closer distances.

As the baby boomer generation starts becoming older adults we are seeing a group who are motivated by remaining active and independent. The rising cost of health care and long-term care make preventing and reducing falls of paramount importance in promoting healthy aging. At the Body and Balance Center we want to help people remain independent and maintain an active lifestyle where they feel safe and confident performing the activities they love.