As we age, the risk of life-threatening falls increases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 36 million falls occur among older adults annually. Shockingly, one in five of these falls results in severe injuries like head trauma or fractures.
Although balance may seem like a given ability, it tends to decline with age. That’s why maintaining good balance is crucial as we age. It supports independent living, enhances daily activities, and enriches overall life quality.
Thankfully, there are strategies to minimize fall risks and lower the chances of injuries, ranging from at-home exercises to the benefits of chiropractic care. Let’s explore how you can keep your balance and live life securely, especially as you grow older.
Common Fall Risks
Apart from the natural process of aging, there are other factors that contribute to a greater risk of falling in older adults.
Core and lower muscle weakness
As you transition into a more sedentary lifestyle, the lack of activity causes muscle atrophy, particularly in the core, trunk, and lower extremities. These muscles are vital for stability and balance. Weakening in these areas makes it harder to recover from a loss of balance, increasing the likelihood of falls.
Balance and walking problems
Several age-related factors can impact balance and walking. Changes in vision, vestibular problems affecting the inner ear’s balance mechanisms, and conditions causing joint or muscle pain can all disrupt stability and coordination, making falls more probable.
Pre-existing medical conditions
Individuals with pre-existing medical conditions that affect joints and muscles, such as arthritis or neuropathy, are more prone to losing balance, even during routine activities. These conditions can impair proprioception and weaken the musculoskeletal system, further elevating fall risks.
Studies suggest a link between the number and type of medications taken and the likelihood of falling, often due to side effects like dizziness, fatigue, or blurred vision. Medications can affect blood pressure, alter perception, or induce drowsiness, all of which can significantly increase the risk of falls.
Feet and footwear issues
Wearing the wrong type of footwear or shoes without adequate support, traction, or cushioning can cause instability and difficulty in walking. Ill-fitting shoes, high heels, or slippery soles can compromise balance, increasing the chances of slipping and falling.
Sometimes, the cause of a fall can be external. Poor lighting, cluttered pathways, loose rugs, wet floors, and other environmental hazards pose significant risks. Addressing these issues and creating a safer living environment is crucial in preventing falls, especially for older individuals whose bones may be more fragile and susceptible to fractures.
How to Prevent Falls
While we can’t guarantee complete fall prevention, there are effective ways to reduce the risk. Engaging in specific exercises aimed at fall prevention can significantly improve your body’s strength and balance.
Regular physical activity is instrumental in maintaining overall bodily strength. For those transitioning from extended periods of inactivity, starting slowly and progressively increasing activity levels is advised to allow your body to acclimate.
These exercises align with the goals of strength training, empowering you to perform everyday tasks independently with enhanced stability and reduced fall risks. It’s a proactive step towards a safer and more confident daily life.
- Leg lifts: Stand behind a sturdy chair or counter and lift one leg out to the side. Hold that position for a few seconds before lowering it. Start slowly for the first few times, then try to do 10-15 reps per leg.
- Sit-to-stand: Sit in your chair with the chair against the wall. Without using your hands, try to stand up. You may use a pillow on the chair for support if this is too hard.
- Wall push-ups: Stand up facing the wall and place your hands firmly on the wall at shoulder height. Do a push-up against the wall, and this will work your upper body.
- Single-leg stand: Holding on a sturdy chair or countertop for support, try to stand on one leg. If you are able to do it, try balancing without any support. Hold the position for 30 seconds per leg.
- Heel-to-toe walk: Stand with your left side next to the counter. You may use this for balance if needed. Walk in a straight line and place the heel of your left foot in front of the toes of your right foot, making sure that the heels and toes touch. Once you reach the end, you can turn the other way, but this time with the counter facing your right side.
- Toe-heel balance: Hold onto the counter or the back of the chair with both of your hands. Stand on your tip toes and keep holding that position for 10 seconds. Then rock back to your heels while holding it for another 10 seconds. Repeat this exercise at least 5 times.
- Quad stretches: Using a chair for balance, grab your ankle behind you. Bring your heel towards your buttocks and hold for 30 seconds. Do the same for the other leg.
- Hamstring stretches: Sit on the floor with one leg extended while the other is bent, the sole of your foot touching the extended leg’s inner thigh. Then reach forward to touch your toes, holding the position for 30 seconds per leg.
Tips to Avoid Falls
Ensuring a safe home environment is crucial in reducing the risk of falls, especially for seniors. Here are some home modifications to enhance safety and prevent potential accidents:
Keep hallways clear of clutter and well-maintained. Any spills should be promptly cleaned to avoid slip hazards. This is vital to prevent obstructions and tripping, especially in frequently used pathways.
Secure the bathroom
Install grab bars and non-slip mats in the bathroom. These provide stability and prevent slips, especially on wet surfaces. Safety measures like these are essential to reduce the risk of accidents, particularly for those with mobility challenges.
Place non-slip kitchen flooring
Utilize non-slip mats in the kitchen, especially near sinks or cooking areas where spills are likely to occur. These mats can prevent accidental slips, making the kitchen a safer space.
Put frequently used items within arm’s reach
Place regularly used items within easy reach. Avoid using step stools or ladders for everyday items. Keeping necessities at arm’s reach minimizes the need for potentially dangerous reaching or climbing.
Taking these simple steps can significantly enhance safety within your home, creating a comfortable and secure living environment, especially for seniors and individuals with mobility concerns.
How Chiropractic Care Helps in Preventing Falls
A chiropractor is an invaluable asset in addressing balance problems and maintaining overall well-being.
Often associated with treating back and neck issues, these medical professionals excel in musculoskeletal conditions, utilizing manual adjustments and spinal corrections not only for relief but also for preventive care.
Here are the ways chiropractic care can significantly benefit you:
Aging often leads to muscle weakening, a significant contributor to falls in older adults. Chiropractors can guide you through specific exercises to rebuild strength in key areas like legs, core, and back muscles.
Pain can impede your weight-bearing abilities and increase the risk of falls, especially during activities like stair climbing. Chiropractic adjustments effectively reduce this pain, allowing you to engage in daily activities more comfortably and securely.
A primary objective of chiropractic care is to restore joint mobility and flexibility, which is crucial for a broader range of motion. This means you can move freely and participate in various activities with confidence.
Aging often leads to a stooped or curved posture, which strains the back and joints, causing stiffness and discomfort. Chiropractors address posture concerns through manual adjustments and exercises, preventing potential balance issues.
Vertigo and lightheadedness can significantly contribute to falls, usually caused by upper cervical spine dysfunction. Chiropractors specialize in improving spinal movement dysfunctions, ensuring a healthy nervous system, and minimizing sensations of dizziness.
Improve Your Mobility and Balance with LifeClinic
At LifeClinic, we believe in more than just alleviating your pain–we’re here to enhance your strength and balance, empowering you to embrace life to the fullest. Our chiropractic treatments are a gateway to a more vibrant you.
Through a holistic approach, we don’t simply address discomfort; we work on restoring, maintaining, and optimizing your body’s functionality. Our aim is to equip you with the mobility and vigor to seize each day, living your life at its peak potential.
Get started on your recovery today by booking a consultation with us!