Even as falls are becoming increasingly common in adults age 65 and over, that doesn't mean they're inevitable. Research shows that falls are caused by a variety of factors, many of which can be improved with the help of physical therapy. Your physical therapist can play a big role in helping you maintain or improve your balance as you age.
Let’s take a look at some of the factors and check out some tips to help you get back into balance.
Cause #1 Lower Body Weakness
Without resistance training, we lose muscle mass every year. Weakness in your lower body has been shown to increase your fall risk. A physical therapist can design an exercise program to help you strengthen your legs and lower body safely.
Cause #2 Inactivity
Another reason we lose muscle mass is from inactivity and deconditioning. People who have fallen in the past often have a fear of falling again, which leads them to do less. As their activity levels decrease, they get weaker and the unstable feeling or fear of falling continues to increase.
This downward spiral can be stopped with balance training from a physical therapist to build your confidence on your feet and allow you to become more active. Attending a group exercise class can be a great way to continue building strength and confidence, work on your balance, and meet new friends at the same time. Ask your physical therapist for some local class recommendations.
Cause #3 Vision Problems
Many people don’t realize that your body uses your vision for balance. Want to prove it? Try this. Stand with your feet together with your eyes open, then compare that to doing it with your eyes closed. Visual problems can also make you miss things like bumps and changes in the surface you’re walking on or objects that you could trip over.
If you’re having problems with your vision, see your eye doctor for an exam and recommendations for your next steps.
Cause #4 Medications
Certain medications can increase your risk of falling and impact your balance by making you sleepy, slowing your reactions, or causing weakness. Some examples of medications that can increase fall risk are certain types of antidepressants, blood pressure medications, and water pills.
Your physical therapist can help you work with your doctor or pharmacist to review your medications and consider changes to improve your balance and reduce your risk of falling.
When it comes to helping you improve your balance, and reduce your risk of falling, your physical therapist is an important part of the team. They can evaluate you to determine where your problem areas are and design an individualized program to help you build your strength and confidence on your feet. They can also refer you to other professionals who can help like your eye doctor and your pharmacist.
If you’re starting to feel out of balance, your physical therapist can be there to help you stop falls before they start. Contact Performance Physical Therapy at 401.726.7100 to schedule a free 15-minute evaluation with a physical therapist or to schedule an appointment.