Your Health- Assessing fall risk

Health Reports

Every year fall injuries send three million Americans to the emergency room for treatment.

Many people suffer life-changing hip fractures or head injuries from these falls. How can seniors get an accurate picture of their fall risk helping them prevent serious injury or worse?

Pedro and Hilda Rivera get outside almost every day. Lately, they’ve become more in tune with their surroundings.

“If I’m coming on uneven terrain, I’m paying attention,” said Hilda Rivera, Senior.

Fatalities related to falls among seniors have increased 30% since 2009.

Nursing professor Ladda Thiamwong and her team have developed an assessment that measures a senior’s physical risk of falling. Participants stand barefoot on a scale and close their eyes.

“When you close your eyes, you don’t feel secure. You’re going to tend to move,” said Ladda Thiamwong, PHD, RN, Associate Professor of Nursing at University of Central Florida.

The scale is connected to a computer. The computer calculates how much a person sways. It’s a measure of balance.

Thiamwong and her colleagues also assess a person’s perceptions of falling. Even if they’ve never fallen before, fear of falling can have a big impact.

“They can isolate themselves. They don’t want to do anything. Then their muscles gonna weak and then they gonna fall,” said Thiamwong.

Experts said that one of the best ways to prevent a fall is to do exercises that make your legs stronger like walking, biking, or swimming.

Incorporate exercise that improves balance like tai chi or yoga.

For Pedro and Hilda, their daily walk could protect their lives and their quality of life.

“We don’t want to live in assisted living. We want to live in our house for as long as we can,” said Pedro Rivera, Senior.

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