By Beverly Patten, Physical Therapist, Senior Home Care
Maintaining balance is a dynamic process that involves the ability to sense changes through three systems: visual (eyes), vestibular (inner ear), and proprioceptors (sensors in muscles and tendons). When one of the three systems is impaired, a fall typically results.
The Four Contributing Factors
Factors that contribute to falls are often easy to overlook. Fortunately, they are also easy to address and modify. They can be divided into four categories:
1) Medical Conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, low blood pressure, arthritis, visual problems, confusion, pain, or incontinence.
2) Medication Issues such as side effects, drug interactions, not following doctor’s orders, or mixing medicines with alcohol.
3) Environmental Hazards such as loose rugs, bad lighting, poor furniture arrangement, clutter, improper footwear, electric cords, water or spills on the floor, lack of safe grab bars in the bathroom, or items kept in areas that are difficult to reach.
4) Age-related Changes such as decreased strength, flexibility, endurance or activity level, postural changes, compromised walking pattern, a fear of falling, or a decline in balance reactions.
Many falls can be prevented by taking deliberate precautions. Age related losses in muscle strength, flexibility, or balance reactions can be addressed through balance, strength assessments, or rehabilitation therapy. Shell Point Retirement Community’s own Rehabilitation Center uses new sophisticated equipment and specific objective assessments for individualized identification of deficits and treatment procedures to address those deficits. If you find yourself in need of rehabilitation care, ask your doctor about a referral to Shell Point Retirement Community.